3 Important Facts about Eggs

I have long stated that you can easily eat one dozen eggs per week. This is a simple and cost-effective way to add valuable nutrition to your diet, especially high-quality protein, healthy fats and antioxidants — provided you cook them properly and get them from a high-quality source.

Many people, unfortunately, have been scared away from this healthy food source because they contain cholesterol. But many of the healthiest foods happen to be rich in cholesterol (and saturated fats), and this isn’t a bad thing.

#1 High-Egg Diet Has No Effect on Cholesterol Levels, Even for People With Type 2 Diabetes

A 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition confirmed my sentiment that it’s safe to eat 12 eggs a week.1 They assigned overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes to eat either a high-egg (12 eggs per week) or a low-egg (less than two eggs per week) diet.

Even though both groups ate the same amount of protein, the high-egg group reported less hunger and greater satiety after breakfast. Further, no negative effect on the participants’ lipid profile was noted.

“No between-group differences were shown for total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, or glycemic control,” the researchers wrote, which shows fears that eating healthy high-cholesterol foods will lead to high cholesterol are unfounded.

Eating Cholesterol Doesn’t Make Your Cholesterol High

One egg yolk contains about 210 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, which is why public health agencies have long suggested Americans limit their intake. In other countries like the U.K., there is no suggested limit on egg consumption.

However, even in the U.S. it’s becoming common knowledge that dietary cholesterol from natural sources poses no threat to your health (and may actually be beneficial).

The newly released 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines have even removed the dietary cholesterol limit and added egg yolks to the list of suggested sources of protein.

The long-overdue change came at the advice of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), which finally acknowledged what the science shows, which is that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”3

Indeed, past research found consumption of more than six eggs per week does not increase your risk of stroke and ischemic stroke.4

And a survey of South Carolina adults found no correlation of blood cholesterol levels with so-called “bad” dietary habits, such as consumption of red meat, animal fats, butter, eggs, whole milk, bacon, sausage and cheese.5

Dr. Luc Djoussé, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who has conducted research on heart disease and eggs, further told Time, “Dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol.”6

#2 Eggs Are a Great Source of Vitamins and Antioxidants?

Unfounded cholesterol worries have overshadowed the fact that eggs are an abundant source of antioxidants and vitamins that many Americans are lacking.

For instance, an estimated 90 percent of the U.S. population may be deficient in choline.7

Some of the symptoms associated with low levels include memory problems, lethargy and persistent brain fog. One egg yolk contains nearly 215 mg of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development and memory.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoid antioxidants that are important for vision health, are also found in eggs as are the amino acids tryptophan and tyrosine, which have potent antioxidant properties to help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

According to Chris Masterjohn, who received his Ph.D. in nutritional sciences from the University of Connecticut, eating eggs, and particularly the yolks, may even be an ideal way to resolve common nutrient deficiencies, including vitamins A, E and B6, copper, calcium and folate.8

So when eating eggs you can do so not only safely but strategically as a way to significantly boost your nutrient intake.

#3 Egg Labels May Not Mean What You Think They Do

It’s important to choose eggs from a high-quality source. Free-range or “pastured” organic eggs are far superior when it comes to nutrient content while conventionally raised eggs are far more likely to be contaminated with disease-causing bacteria such as salmonella.

An egg is considered organic if the chicken was fed only organic food, which means it will not have accumulated high levels of pesticides from the grains (mostly genetically modified (GM) corn) fed to typical chickens.

This is a start, but the organic label on eggs is not an indication that the hens have been humanely or sustainably raised. Ideally, you want eggs from chickens that have access to the outdoors where they can consume their natural diet and lead more natural, happier lives.

Yet, even “cage-free” on a label still does not mean the chickens were raised under ideal conditions. They’re not raised in cages, but they may not have access to the outdoors.

So there are still significant differences even between “cage-free” and “free range” (or “pastured”) eggs. With so many loopholes and lack of transparency, it can be very confusing to sort through it all.