Why eggs are good for you
The nutritional benefits of eggs are well established, but how many should you eat?
Eggs have had bad press in the past, and have been misunderstood. Are they to be restricted due to concerns about heart disease as a common myth suggests? Or are they a nutritious and positive addition to your diet? We find out.
Eating too many eggs was considered unhealthy in times gone by, due to the cholesterol and fat that eggs contain. It was thought that they, and the yolks in particular, would contribute to clogging our arteries and negatively affect our heart health.
This isn’t true at all. Of course, the eggs themselves haven’t changed, but our knowledge of them has progressed in leaps and bounds. In fact, The Heart Foundation says that all Australians can eat an egg on most days of the week as part of a healthy, low-fat diet, as this won’t negatively affect their risk of heart disease.
Recent science has shed much light on how our bodies react to the components of an egg. “We used to be a little concerned by the cholesterol that exists in the yolk (remember the days of only eating egg whites as the yolk wasn’t deemed healthy?). However, the cholesterol in eggs almost has no effect on our own blood cholesterol levels,” says Bupa dietitian Gemma Cosgriff. “Our blood cholesterol level will be more influenced by the [unhealthy] saturated and trans fats that we consume in the foods we eat.”
In fact, it’s the yolk that we used to avoid that is exactly the part we should be taking in. “The yolk holds most of the valuable nutrients that are beneficial for our health, so we’ve realised that by cutting the yolk out we ended up cutting out some quality nutrients at the same time, which is less than ideal,” says Cosgriff.
Eggs get the thumbs up
So, are eggs good for us? In a word, yes.
“Eggs are a source of 11 vitamins and minerals, and one egg provides about 5g of fat (mostly unsaturated, healthy fat) and only about 1.5g of saturated fat,” Cosgriff explains. “The key nutrients in eggs are omega-3 healthy fats, lean protein, antioxidants, vitamins A, D and E, folate, iron, choline and a pretty good energy content of around 300kJ.”
All of this adds up to what Cosgriff describes as “great nutritional bang for energy buck”.
All of these nutrients have positive benefits to our health. “These nutrients are important for brain development, growth, bone strength, immune function and vision,” says Cosgriff. “An egg is also one of the rare food sources of vitamin D (most of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure) .”
So, go ahead and make your meals a little eggier with the upside that eggs are one of the simplest foods to deal with: boiled, poached, sunny side up as an ingredient in other recipes, the choice is yours.
How many are enough?
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Eggs make a great snack or meal addition and can be part of a healthy, well-balanced diet.
The magic figure sits around the halfway mark of your dozen-egg carton. “The current recommendation remains at eating no more than six eggs per week for good health,” advises Cosgriff.