Eggs Healthy In Moderation Says LSU AgCenter Nutritionist

Catrinel Stanciu  |  4/19/2005 10:28:38 PM

Distributed May 2004

Eggs have plenty to offer despite their cholesterol content, according to LSU AgCenter food and nutrition expert Catrinel Stanciu. Eggs are an inexpensive source of high-quality protein and a good source of vitamins B12, E, riboflavin, niacin, iron and phosphorus.

Because of the high cholesterol content of the yolk, however, eggs became a forbidden food for the cholesterol-conscious people.

"We have to remember, though, that moderation is the key for a healthy diet, and there is nothing wrong with eggs," Stanciu asserts, adding, "So let’s clear up some confusion during national egg month of May and give eggs the credit they deserve."

The nutrition expert recommends including eggs in the "nutritious foods" category if consumed in moderation.

And what is moderation? According to the American Council on Science & Health, "intake of up to one egg per day has no detectable effect on heart disease risk in healthy people." There is no restriction on egg whites, since they are fat-and cholesterol-free and very high in protein.

Research has shown that dietary cholesterol has a smaller effect on blood cholesterol than saturated fats. One egg yolk has about 210 mg cholesterol, which is about two-thirds of the recommended amount of daily cholesterol intake. According to the American Heart Association, the daily cholesterol intake should be limited to 300 mg/day, for healthy people. People with high blood cholesterol should limit their dietary cholesterol, according to their doctor’s recommendation.

Cholesterol is a fatlike substance that is found only in foods of animal origin and in every body cell. There are two types of cholesterol: dietary cholesterol and serum (blood) cholesterol.

Dietary cholesterol is the cholesterol that is found in animal foods, such as egg yolk, brain, kidney, whole milk, etc. Serum (blood) cholesterol is the cholesterol that travels through the blood stream.

Some people think that all the cholesterol we eat becomes "blood cholesterol," which is not true. The body makes most of the blood cholesterol (in the liver); some is also absorbed from the food we eat.

According to the USDA guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid, we should consume 2 to 3 servings of meat and meat substitutes every day. One serving of meat is 3 ounces, and one egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat.

"That doesn’t mean we have to eat three eggs every day!" Stanciu says. Several other foods are included into the same food group, such as meat, dry beans, peanut butter, nuts and seeds.

Eggs are inexpensive, convenient and nutritious. If you have to limit yolk intake, you can substitute egg whites for whole eggs (two egg whites for one whole egg). For food safety reasons, Stanciu recommends consuming only cooked eggs or using egg substitute for dishes that call for raw eggs. She says raw and undercooked eggs carry the risk for salmonellosis, so eggs have to be cooked at a high enough temperature to destroy the bacteria.

To stay on the healthy side, look for recipes that call for egg whites, like angel food cake or meringue cookies. You can even make deviled eggs a healthier dish, by filling the egg whites with a well-seasoned filling that is not made from the yolks. Decrease the number of yolks that you use for omelets, and top them with fresh vegetables for variety.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension/
Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter:
http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/Extension/
Departments/fcs/

On the Internet: American Council on Science & Health:
http://www.acsh.org/publications/reports/
eggs_2002.html

On the Internet: American Egg Board:
http://www.aeb.org/food/eggs-health.html

Source:
Catrinel Stanciu (225) 578-6924, or cstanciu@agcenter.lsu.edu  

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