Egg nutrition is hard to beat

The biggest myth to unscramble is that eating eggs is bad for heart health because the cholesterol in eggs raises blood cholesterol levels.

It’s true that eggs do contain cholesterol — about 180 milligrams in one yolk — but research shows that the dietary cholesterol we consume has little impact on cholesterol in the bloodstream.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans officially give the all clear for foods that contain dietary cholesterol, including eggs and shellfish.

Adding more weight to advice to lighten up concerns about eating too many eggs, a 20-year study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating one egg a day was not associated with an increase in heart risks.

Meanwhile, people who have been diagnosed with heart disease or Type 2 diabetes are advised by the American Heart Association to cap dietary cholesterol intake at 200 milligrams a day. That means it’s OK to enjoy a deviled egg from the holiday bounty.

Saturated fats at fault

The DGA identify food sources of artery-clogging saturated fats, such as butter, bacon and fatty cuts of beef, as the culinary culprits in causing heart disease. The current advice is to limit saturated fat intake to less than 10 percent of total calories.

Too much saturated fat has been shown to raise total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Eggs do contain some saturated fat, but only 1.6 grams, as compared with a tablespoon of butter at 7 grams. So, next time, skip the buttered biscuit and gravy and enjoy a scrambled egg on whole-grain toast.

Excellent eggs

Eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein.

With 75 calories, 6 grams of protein, plus B vitamins, vitamin D and iron, the egg is packed with nutrition, and many important nutrients are found in the yolk. The yolk contains choline, which aids brain function, and antioxidants that prevent age-related blindness.

So, you’re actually being less health conscious when you order an egg white omelet.

Egg safety note

Because raw eggs can contain salmonella bacteria, cook eggs thoroughly until the yolk and white are firm.

Egg-containing recipes should be cooked to 160 F.

Use hard-boiled eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.

Too many eggs in your basket? To freeze whole raw eggs, beat yolks and whites together and use within one year.

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Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook.” Email her at carolyn@carolynoneil.com.

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