Eggs aren't all that unhealthy: Here's why you can have them every day
The American Heart Association now recommends the consumption of one egg (or two egg whites) every day as a part of a healthy diet.
They may be large or small, white, brown or speckled in colour, and they might have been sourced from a chicken, a duck, a quail or even an ostrich. Eggs, no matter what form they’re available in, are simply delicious. Every cuisine from across the world has a myriad of ways to cook eggs, and humankind has been consuming this food for at least a millennia now.
And why not? Eggs, apart from being very tasty — whether your fry them, boil them, poach them or bake with them — are also quite nutritious. They are a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds or antioxidants - all of which your body needs to function at its very best.
However, eggs get a very bad reputation because they are considered to be high in dietary cholesterol. In 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) announced the dietary recommendation that people should consume no more than three eggs per week because the high cholesterol levels in eggs can cause heart diseases. Since then, this recommendation has permeated the popular imagination, and most health-conscious people have chosen to either avoid eggs or eat just egg whites while chucking the egg yolks.
Is this something you should be doing? Or is the whole egg just what you need to add to your daily diet?
It’s all about the yolk, folks
You might find both egg whites and yolks within the same eggshell, but both these parts are nutritionally very different. A study published in the journal Nutrients in 2019 revealed that while egg whites are extremely rich in protein, they barely have any fats, vitamins or minerals. The yolks, on the other hand, have dietary cholesterol along with protein, folate, vitamins A, D, E and B complex, minerals like calcium, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, and other micronutrients like choline, lutein and zeaxanthin.
So, why is eating yolks considered to be such a bad thing? It’s the dietary cholesterol which seems to be the issue. The AHA, based on research conducted in the 1960s, concluded that high intake of dietary cholesterol can lead to increase in blood cholesterol levels, which in turn leads to the clogging of arteries and then cardiovascular diseases. This logic sounded foolproof, which is why it took such a foothold in the popular imagination and continues to influence diet decisions.
Recent research, as revealed by the Harvard Medical School, suggests quite the opposite. Cholesterol is a type of fat everybody needs, and its levels in the body are regulated by the liver. The liver processes food synthesizes it and produces high-density lipoprotein (HDL or good cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or bad cholesterol) which are released in the bloodstream. High dietary cholesterol intake, these researches discovered, did not directly translate into high blood cholesterol.
Eggy matters for every day
Not only have most researches failed to establish a direct link between egg consumption and heart diseases (which are caused by several factors apart from dietary cholesterol intake), some have even gone on to suggest that eating eggs can actually help the body regulate cholesterol better.
A study, published in the Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology in 1996, revealed that consuming enough dietary cholesterol can suppress the liver’s production of LDL cholesterol and boost heart health. What’s more, given the nutritive value of that egg yolk, eating eggs is also supposed to improve cognitive function, immunity and eye health. And need we mention how important protein is for building, maintaining and repairing muscles? Eggs also have enough nutrition and calories to keep you satiated for a longer time, thereby curbing cravings and aiding weight loss.
An egg a day keeps the doctor away
The evidence is so overwhelmingly in favour of eating eggs instead of not eating them that even the AHA has come around to now recommending the consumption of one egg (or two egg whites) every day as a part of a healthy diet. Most health promotion agencies across the world also dropped the previous dietary cholesterol and egg-consumption restrictions in 2015.
Of course, you’ll probably do yourself quite some harm if you eat fried eggs and cheesy omelettes every day. Unless recommended otherwise by a doctor, choose boiled and poached eggs, have one every day, and you’ll be fit and fine.
For more tips, read our article on Eggs: Nutrition, Health Benefits and Side Effects.
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