The Good Egg

It’s been called everything from “incredible” and “Nature’s perfect food” to “lowly.” For years, the egg was maligned by the scientific community owing to concerns over elevated cholesterol levels and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Thanks to a recent media campaign, the egg is now being viewed in a more positive light by health experts and consumers alike. Here’s why:

Health Benefits. Eggs provide a number of heart-healthy nutrients, including folate, vitamins E and B12, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and the antioxidant lutein, which is vital for eye health. While it was once thought that eggs raised cholesterol levels, scientists now worry more about how saturated fat and trans fat contribute to elevated blood cholesterol. A large egg contains only 1.5 grams of saturated fat, not enough to cause a spike in cholesterol levels in most healthy people (those with diagnosed cholesterol issues should still refrain from eating too many eggs). In fact, new research suggests that the nutrients in eggs may contribute to good heart health and that this benefit outweighs any cholesterol concerns for most people.

Selecting Eggs. Buy eggs only if they are in a refrigerated case; open the carton to ensure that the eggs are clean and the shells intact. Eggshell color is determined by the breed of hen, but nutrients and flavor are similar across all breeds.

Storage. Refrigerate eggs immediately. Store them in their original container, not in the egg case in the refrigerator door! Use eggs within 3 weeks of purchase to ensure best quality. Wash hands and all surfaces after handling eggs, to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.

Use. Most healthy people can eat an egg a day without increasing their risk of heart disease or stroke, according to the American Medical Association. Serve eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking. Never leave out an egg dish for more than 2 hours at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers, and use within 3–4 days.

Tips. If you are taking cooked eggs to work or school or on a picnic, pack them with a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box. Put them in the car’s air-conditioned interior, not in the trunk.

Sources: May 2006 Tuft’s University Health & Nutrition Letter; March 23, 2005, San Diego Union-Tribune.

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Diane Lofshult

IDEA Author/Presenter
Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight manag... more less

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