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Are Eggs Bad For You? What the Research Says

Are eggs bad for you? Some recent research suggests that they are. But past studies have suggested otherwise. Your personal medical history, lifestyle, and overall health should be taken into consideration when deciding how many eggs to eat.   

Are eggs good for you? The benefits of eating eggs

There’s plenty of available research to suggest that eating eggs is good for your health. Considered by some to be one of the most nutritionally complete, healthiest foods on the planet, eggs have a range of nutrients.

With roughly 75 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 6 grams of protein, eggs contain several vitamins and minerals your body needs; potassium, iron, zinc, folate, vitamins B12, B2, and E, to name just a few. Importantly, eggs are also one of the foods that contain vitamin D, essential for regulating the immune system as well as preventing osteoporosis. Since most of us aren’t getting enough vitamin D, eggs can be an important source of this vitamin. It’s important to remember that vitamin D, as well as nearly all the nutrients found in eggs, are in the yolk, not the egg white. 

Another important nutrient eggs contain is choline. This difficult-to-obtain nutrient and brain food is considered essential to health. Low levels of it have been connected to liver disease. Pregnant people who have low levels of choline are at an increased risk of their baby developing brain or spine defects. Eggs provide one of the most bioavailable forms of choline. 

Eggs enriched with omega-3s have also been shown to lower blood triglyceride levels (high triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of heart disease). Studies have also shown that blood levels of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin increase when eggs are part of an overall healthy diet. Antioxidants, in general, are essential to protect the body against free radicals. And while people with diabetes may be at risk of increased cholesterol levels from eating eggs, studies have also shown that the inclusion of eggs as part of a low-carb diet for diabetics can be helpful, both for health and for weight loss

Are eggs bad for you? Potential risks of eating eggs

Recent research has indicated that there may be risks associated with eating eggs, especially if they are a large part of your caloric or protein intake.

One recent study found that, regardless of overall health, eating more eggs increased chances of coronary heart disease, heart failure, and early death. It followed 30,000 participants over 17 years. The findings: For every 300 milligrams of daily cholesterol, the risk of developing heart disease increased 17 percent, with an 18 percent increased risk of early death. 

The study suggests that eating 1.5 eggs each day is linked to an increased risk of poor cardiovascular health. So if you are deciding how many eggs to eat a day and are concerned about high cholesterol, you can use that as your guideline. But you may not need to. 

There are also a number of other factors to consider when deciding whether eggs are good or bad. There is a complex relationship between the cholesterol obtained from food and cholesterol levels in the body. The relationship varies, sometimes significantly, from person to person. Some people will be able to eat many eggs without raising their blood cholesterol levels. For others, that won’t be the case.

Part of the reason for this difference is the way cholesterol is made by the liver. If your body is not getting enough cholesterol from food, the liver will try to compensate by making cholesterol. But if you eat large amounts of cholesterol-rich foods, the liver will also compensate by producing less. In other words, your body regulates the amount of cholesterol it makes. Still, if you already have high cholesterol, eating large amounts of cholesterol-rich foods will only further increase blood levels. This is why understanding your current health is such an important piece of making the right dietary choices.

In addition to differences in genetics and health, the study did not account for other foods eaten alongside eggs, which can make a big difference in cholesterol levels. The saturated fats contained in foods like butter, coconut oil, bacon, and muffins — all standard breakfast fare — get converted to cholesterol by the liver. So if study participants ate eggs with foods high in saturated fat, this would also raise blood cholesterol levels.  

Health professionals still agree more research is needed to understand why some groups of people are more likely to have increased cholesterol levels from eating eggs. The authors also make it clear that eggs still have important nutritional value. The study is not advising that people just walk away from eggs. 

So how many eggs can you eat daily?

How many eggs can I eat a day — it’s a common question, and most health professionals agree that 1 egg a day is fine. However, if you have a family history of heart disease or have diabetes, you may want to cut back on egg consumption.

If, however, you have diabetes, high cholesterol levels, or a family history of heart disease, you might want to consider eating less than 1.5 eggs per day.

Although science has debated whether eggs are bad for cholesterol for decades, researchers and professionals today generally agree that eating 1 egg a day can provide many nutritional benefits. If, however, you have diabetes, high cholesterol levels, or a family history of heart disease, you might want to consider eating less than 1.5 eggs per day. It may be best to limit your egg consumption to 3–4 eggs per week. 

Unless health conditions dictate otherwise, certain groups of people probably shouldn’t cut out eggs. Pregnant women and those with low levels of choline and vitamin D, in particular, can benefit from eating eggs. They can also find ways to include other sources of the essential nutrients found in eggs into their diets, such as fatty fish and beef liver.  

What kind of egg is the healthiest?

Not all eggs are created equal. Living conditions for chickens play a significant role in the health benefits of their eggs. But what about the way the egg is cooked? Does that matter? Are hard-boiled eggs good for you? What about poached or scrambled?

Eggs that are pasture-raised, as opposed to those from factory farms, are significantly more nutritious. Pasture-raised eggs contain significantly higher levels of vitamin E, vitamin A, beta-carotene, biotin, and omega-3 fatty acids. What’s more, pasture-raised eggs have less saturated fat and cholesterol than factory farmed eggs. In fact, the cholesterol in a pasture-raised egg is only 277 milligrams, as opposed to the 423 milligrams found in a conventional egg. They cost more, but eating pasture-raised eggs is healthier in terms of both their nutrient profile and their cholesterol levels.  

Pasture-raised eggs have less saturated fat and cholesterol than factory farmed eggs. In fact, the cholesterol in a pasture-raised egg is only 277 milligrams, as opposed to the 423 mg found in a conventional egg.

When it comes to how you cook your eggs, the method doesn’t matter too much. Hard-boiled, poached, scrambled, or over-easy — all are the same in terms of nutritional makeup. If you want to keep your cholesterol levels within a healthy range, be mindful of the saturated fats you take in, both at breakfast time and throughout the day. Saturated fats play an important role in cholesterol production by signalling the liver to produce more cholesterol, which in turn raises blood cholesterol levels. Staying within the American Heart Association recommended level of 13 grams of saturated fat per day will go a long way toward keeping cholesterol levels down.

The takeaway

Eggs should still, for most people, be considered part of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Nearly all health professionals agree that eating an egg several times a week is beneficial. As with all foods, it is important to take other factors into consideration. The source of the egg, the other foods in your diet, your lifestyle, and your current and family health history all play a role in determining the best diet for you.








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