Q: May is National Egg Month.  Are eggs good or bad for you?  What are some practical approaches for incorporating eggs into my diet?

A: Eggs were a common American diet staple up until the 1940’s due to their health benefits, accessibility (higher farm population), and economic value.  The consumption of eggs waned from the 1940’s forward due to studies linking eggs to heart disease, strokes, and high cholesterol due to their high fat and cholesterol content.

However, recent research has concluded:

  • The amount of cholesterol the liver produces to be inversely related to the amount of cholesterol consumed (liver produces less cholesterol when consuming more cholesterol; and visa versa). As a result, cholesterol levels tend to stay the same or increase only slightly.
  • Saturated fats have a large role in raising cholesterol levels and risk for diseases.

The end result is the link between cholesterol from eggs and blood cholesterol is inconclusive.  Hence, the U.S. Dietary Guideline recommendations on eggs and daily cholesterol intake were updated.

Eggs have many health benefits.  They are a good source of protein, contain many vitamins, and several trace minerals and nutrients.  Here are some practical approaches for incorporating eggs into your diet:

  • Consuming a whole egg a day is generally OK (yolks and whites)
  • Exceptions do exist.  Limit or avoid egg consumption, consume egg substitutes, or consume the whites if:
    • Your diet is already high in saturated fat or calories
    • Your dealing with heart disease, have a higher risk for heart disease or stroke, or have high blood pressure
  • Prepare the egg in a healthy manner
    • Poach, boiled
    • Avoid oil or butter when frying
    • Avoid the extras (bacon, sausage, cheese, salt, etc.)

The following websites were used in answering the question: