Eggs are a commonly misunderstood food, especially in the older generation of Australians who lived through the ‘fat is bad’ era of food. Once thought to be one of the culprits contributing to high cholesterol and heart disease risk, there is now large debate as to whether they should be included as part of a balanced diet. So as dietitians, what do we have to say about that? What egg-sactly is the go with eggs? We are going to un-scramble this confusing topic!
What Does the Research Say?
Research supports the idea that eggs can be part of a healthy diet. Two large studies found that eating an egg daily did not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy people (Harvard School of Public Health, 2020).
Prior to this, it was thought that the cholesterol we eat from food equates to elevated cholesterol in our bodies. However, that is not necessarily the case. Research shows that dietary cholesterol has little impact on our cholesterol levels – saturated and trans fats have a greater impact on your cholesterol levels (The Heart Foundation).
In saying this, some people are more susceptible to increases in LDL (bad) cholesterol when eating food which contains cholesterol, compared to others. This includes people who have high cholesterol levels, a heart-related condition or Type 2 Diabetes (The Heart Foundation).
So, What Does This Egg-Sactly Mean?
For those who are more susceptible to cholesterol in foods, the Heart Foundation recommends:
- Limiting to 7 eggs per week
For those who have healthy cholesterol levels and no other chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, the Heart Foundation states:
- There is no increased, or decreased risk including eggs as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Other considerations include:
- The way you cook your eggs: aim to poach, boil or scramble with no added fat
- Limit the inclusion of processed meats alongside eggs such as sausages and bacon which are typically high in sodium, saturated fat and trans fats which can increase your cardiovascular risk
- Serve your eggs with whole grains and vegetables as these foods have been associated with improved heart health! (The Heart Foundation)
Eggs are a Great Source of Nutrition
Eggs are a great vegetarian protein source to assist with cell growth and repair and keeping us fuller for longer. They contain other nutrients including (not limited to) Vitamin A to promote eye health, Vitamin D for bone health and immune function and Choline which plays a role in development during pregnancy and other processes such as cognition (Harvard School of Public Health, 2020).
What Are Some Healthy Ways to Enjoy Eggs?
Some egg-cellent, nutritious ways to serve eggs include:
- Boiling, poaching, scrambling or grilling.
- Served with grain toast topped with ¼ avocado served with sautéed vegetables such as tomato, mushrooms and spinach.
- Vegetarian omelette.
- Mini egg and veggies muffins. Made with assorted veg topped with a beaten egg, herbs and spices and a sprinkle of low-fat cheese.
- Vegetable frittata.
- Trying boiled eggs as a snack or chopped up into a salad.
- Adding to wholegrain salad sandwich or wrap.
The bottom line is that eggs can be included as part of a nutritious diet. Consider how you are preparing and serving your eggs and ensure you stick within the recommended guidelines based on your current health status. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, head to our website to get in touch with one of our wonderful dietitians today!