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Eggs, the perfect food

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 4

Once considered the perfect food

Full of nutrients

Eggs were once thought of as the perfect food. And for good, reason - they contain protein, vitamins, minerals, fat, are easy to digest and are relatively inexpensive. Marion Harland in her 1889 book Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper said, "Authorities agree that there is more nutrient in an egg than in any substance of equal bulk found in nature...They are much used for food the world over."[5117]

Marion was right; eggs are nutrient-dense. The protein in egg whites is the standard by which all other protein is measured.[5109] It is the ideal protein. Eggs are high in many vitamins (folate, biotin, choline, and vitamin E) and carotenoids (β-carotene and lutein). Pastured eggs are a great source of healthy fats , specifically ω-3s and monounsaturates.[5112]

Eggs, the perfect food(113795)
Credit: Rachel Ham

Along came cholesterol

Eggs are bad for you

With the discovery of cholesterol, eggs became a no-no.[5109] In fact, between 1945 and 2000, per capita egg consumption in the United States dropped from 400 eggs/year to 180/year. Why? Dietary recommendations in the late 1960s set an upper limit of 300 mg/day of dietary cholesterol. One egg contains about 275 mg of cholesterol. [5112]Unfortunately, experts admit that "dietary recommendations had little scientific evidence other than a known association between saturated fat and cholesterol."[5116]  

Eggs are the perfect food once more

Research vindicates the egg

What about eggs and blood cholesterol? Clinical research (carefully changing the diets of people and observing what happens) shows that eating more eggs will increase LDL, the bad cholesterol, but will also increase HDL, the good cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol actually lowers the small, dense LDL particles, the most dangerous kind of cholesterol in your blood.[5114]

No research has yet shown that people who eat more eggs have more heart attacks.[5109] Epidemiological studies (looking at patterns of disease in populations) have not shown a relationship between high dietary cholesterol and higher rates of heart disease. In fact, in a 1999 study of 118,000 men and women, people who ate five or six eggs a week actually decreased their risk for heat disease compared to those who ate less than one egg each week.[5113]

What now? Turn back to the age-old tradition of eating eggs - for breakfast[5117], lunch, dinner, in desserts, salads, and sauces. A breakfast of eggs will keep you full longer than one of cereal with milk or a pastry. [5115]The higher protein content will help you not eat as many calories at lunch or dinner. What are you waiting for? Go, break an egg.



Sep 27, 2012 8:19pm
I was a typist back in the late 70s at the Biology Department for Cal Tech in La Canada, California, and the Scientists I worked for were extremely mad and agitated with the recommendations for avoiding eggs. Their studies at that time clearly showed that the whites in the eggs neutralized the cholesterol in the yolks. They drilled it into my head back then that eggs were a neutral food. Nature knew what it was doing.

Sep 28, 2012 5:35am
Thanks, LavenderRose. Wish everyone had it drilled into their head about the goodness of eggs!
Oct 19, 2012 12:15am
Its amazing how technology and powers to be keep changing the goalposts. Its good its bad the main thing if we grow our own vegies, fruit, chickens and fresh eggs at least we know where they came from and free from chemicals. Good article on eggs. I will keep eating them anyway.
Oct 19, 2012 4:11am
Eileen, I agree that it's hard to find solid nutritional advice. So much confusion out there. Enjoy your eggs, regardless!
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  1. Walter Willett Eat, Drink, and be Healthy. New York: Fireside, 2001.
  2. Nina Planck Real Food: What to Eat and Why. New York: Bloomsbury, 2006.
  3. FB Hu, MJ Stampfer, et al. "A Prospective Study of Egg Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease." Journal of the American Medical Association. 281 (1999): 1387-94.
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  8. Don Bell "Per Capita Egg Consumption by Country 1999 and 2000." http://animalscience.ucdavis.edu/avian/PerCapitaEggConsumptionbyCountry2000.htm. 19/September/2012 <Web >

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