CLEVELAND – Many of us look forward to enjoying some Easter eggs for breakfast, but sometimes we’re not sure if eating too many eggs is harmful for our cholesterol.
According to Julia Zumpano, RD, of Cleveland Clinic, eggs are a healthy addition to our diets, as long as we limit the amount of egg yolks we eat in a week.
“Eggs are very convenient and a great source of proteins,” she said. “We certainly recommend you can safely eat eggs regularly; but we max it out at about four to six egg yolks in a week – that’s an average of less than an egg a day.”
In addition to being a good source of protein, Zumpano said eggs contain lecithin, which is a fat that is essential to the cells of the body.
A recent study looked at how dietary cholesterol found in egg yolks may contribute to heart disease risk.
Researchers found an association between an increased risk of heart disease and death for every additional 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a person ate each day.
Zumpano said people who have high cholesterol, or a family history of high cholesterol, may need to be more conservative with their egg consumption, sticking to a range of two to four egg yolks per week.
And egg whites do not contain cholesterol, so people can eat as many of those as they wish without worrying.
Zumpano said how many eggs are right for you is really based on what the rest of your dietary intake of saturated fat and cholesterol looks like.
For instance, a vegetarian may be able to eat more because they are not eating red meat and cheese, whereas someone who eats more meat may need to consume fewer eggs.
“We have to look at the whole picture,” said Zumpano. “Even with this most recent study, the recommendation, from a cardiovascular standpoint, still has not changed; we still follow that same guideline of a range of two to six egg yolks a week.”
She said what also makes a difference, is how we prepare our eggs.
“A lot of people use butter to prepare eggs, and then smother them in cheese, and don’t realize how much more saturated fat and cholesterol they’ve just added to those eggs,” said Zumpano.
For those who really like eggs, Zumpano suggests poaching them or boiling them like Easter eggs – which is the healthiest way to enjoy them. It’s also helpful, once they’re boiled, to take the yolks out of half of them, which will cut down on the amount of cholesterol.