Myth: Eggs are bad for the heart.
Fact: Ever wondered why egg-white omelettes became so popular? Lord knows it wasn’t for the flavour! It’s a classic case of food egg-stremism resulting in the poor old egg copping a bad wrap. Eggs were shunned because of their cholesterol content, but looking a little deeper we find eating eggs is not linked with higher rates of heart disease. Although eggs contain cholesterol, eating eggs in moderation as part of a heart-friendly diet low in saturated fat will not adversely affect the blood cholesterol level of most people. Blood cholesterol levels are far more influenced by how much saturated and trans fat you eat than dietary cholesterol. A typical 50 g egg contains 5 g fat of which only 1.5 g is saturated. Eggs are full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, E, folate and B12, antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin that help maintain healthy eyes, and also contain long chain omega-3 fats (like the ones in fish).
However like most foods it appears you can have too much of a good thing. A recently published study of men suggested an increased of risk of death (interestingly not from cardiovascular disease) was associated with eating more than 1 egg a day, especially in men with diabetes. But more than one egg a day is egg-cessive any way you look at it. Yet again, the old nutrition wisdom prevails – enjoy everything in moderation. Everyone can enjoy eggs in moderation (around 3–4 eggs a week) in the context of a heart-friendly diet. Our tip is to enjoy them together with protective plant foods such as wholegrains, vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts and healthy oils. Think … Egg, Beans and Mushrooms on Mixed Grain Muffins, or, Avocado Scrambled Egg (rather than a greasy fry-up with bacon, white toast, butter and salt!). For these and other egg-cellent recipes, check out any of the New Glucose Revolution low GI cookbooks, Eat to Beat Cholesterol or Heart Food.
Dietitian Nicole Senior is author of Heart Food and Eat to Beat Cholesterol available online from Dymocks.