The almighty egg has graced plates since the dawn of time. It is a symbol of longevity and fertility, and is included in holidays ranging from Easter to Christmas. Yet, when it comes to nutrition, eggs are the ultimate good guy/bad guy. Eggs might be rich in nutrients, but they also pack more cholesterol into one tiny yolk than you would get in a 12-ounce New York steak. Here are just a few issues when it comes to eggs:
Protein: The 6 grams of protein in an egg is such high quality – with just the right mix of amino acids and an outstanding ability to be digested and absorbed – that it scores a perfect 100 on the protein scale and sets the standard of quality for all other proteins (most beans in comparison rank at about half that, while the protein in grains scores only about 25). Yolk or White? The protein is divided evenly between the yolk and the white.
Your Heart: Egg yolks are the #1 source of cholesterol in the American diet. One egg supplies 215 of the maximum daily allowance of 300 milligrams recommended by the American Heart Association. How could something so bad, still be good for you? Truth is, the real bad guy in the heart-disease story (along with obesity) is saturated fat, which is why cutting out fatty meat and full-fat dairy really saves arteries, while eggs are low in saturated fat (an egg contains 1.5 grams of saturated fat compared to 7 grams in a tablespoon of butter). Yolk or White? All of the cholesterol is in the yolk. A recent study found that eggs increase heart disease risk in diabetics.
Your Brain: Eggs are a premium source of choline, a building block for specialized fats essential for brain function, including the nerve chemical, acetylcholine, that regulates memory. Each yolk supplies about 162 milligrams of choline (daily recommended intakes are 425 milligrams for women and 550 milligrams for men). Eggs fortified with the omega-3 fat DHA, such as Gold Circle Farm Eggs, also might aid in memory. Yolk or White? All of the choline is in the yolk.
The Bottom Line: The trick to including eggs in the diet is to limit yolk intake and to dilute the cholesterol by adding more whites than yolks. For every whole egg in a recipe, use 2 egg whites (or, 4 level teaspoons powdered egg white plus 4 tablespoons of warm water) or 1/4 cup egg substitute (made from egg whites). Photo credit: cobalt123 via Compfight