Are Eggs Healthy? Depends on what you pair them with…
-By Caroline Brantly
Are eggs healthy? Over the years the stance on eggs and heart health has shifted and continues to shift as more research is uncovered.
Eggs might be known for its cholesterol content, but they are a good source of protein, biotin, vitamin A, D and choline, which is an important nutrient for metabolism, liver function and fetal brain development.
Eggs were reintroduced as part of a healthy diet when the 2015 Dietary Guidelines of Americans removed the previous recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol to 300mg a day, overall removing the focus on dietary cholesterol.1 For most healthy people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total and LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats, particularly saturated and trans fats in the diet.1 However, this doesn’t mean large daily egg consumption and other cholesterol rich foods is encouraged. Research leading to the change in dietary recommendations showed moderate intake of eggs (1/day or 7/week) can be included in a healthy diet and is not associated with an increase in heart disease.2,3
Eggs are recently back in the spotlight following a newly published research article which circulated the news and social media. Many people bring to question their morning breakfast routine, and ask again are eggs healthy?
It is important to look at the egg/cholesterol rich food on their own as well as in the context of the complete diet. Research on eggs has found no significant increase in heart disease when paired with a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats.2,3 A large limitation in this new study is the lack of knowledge on individual diet throughout the 30 year study period.4
To really compare eggs and heart health we should think about the foods we pair with eggs or food choices we might have instead. Eggs with fruit or whole wheat bread would be a nutritious breakfast compared to eggs with bacon or sausage or home fries. Further, eggs are likely the better choice than sugary refined grain options such as cereal or pastries, but might not add up to options such as oatmeal with nuts and berries.
Bottom line: Eggs are not bad! Eggs are a healthy choice and in moderation eggs can be a part of a healthy diet. The overall eating pattern is key, for what you pair eggs with or what you have instead might be more concerning than the egg itself.
People at risk for heart disease, including those with high LDL cholesterol, family history of heart disease, diabetes, or other comorbidities should continue to pay attention to cholesterol and saturated fat intake. If you want to know more about your cholesterol level and how to manage it speak with your doctor or registered dietitian.
Want to learn more about how you can incorporate eggs into a healthy diet. Get started with a FREE 15 minute nutrition consultation HERE.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.
- Qin C, Lv J, Guo Y on behalf of the China Kadoorie Biobank Collaborative Group, et al. Associations of egg consumption with cardiovascular disease in a cohort study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. Heart 2018;104:1756-1763.
- Nicholas R Fuller, Amanda Sainsbury, Ian D Caterson, Gareth Denyer, Mackenzie Fong, James Gerofi, Chloris Leung, Namson S Lau, Kathryn H Williams, Andrzej S Januszewski, Alicia J Jenkins, Tania P Markovic, Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 107, Issue 6, June 2018, Pages 921–931,
- Zhong VW, Van Horn L, Cornelis MC, et al. Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality. JAMA. 2019;321(11):1081–1095. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.1572