The most reoccurring question that I get from my clients is all about eggs. Some want to know if they are a good meal option for a weight loss plan and others want to know how they will affect their cholesterol and over-all heart health. They’ve got more specific questions too. Should they buy brown or white eggs? Should eggs be bought organic? What if they stick to only egg whites? I’ve received so many of these questions over the last year that I started to compile a list. Today, my blog post is all about answering all the questions, about all the eggs, for you! There were actually so many questions that I’m breaking this blog post into two parts. Check back next week for the answers to even more questions, all about eggs!
Before we get to all the questions, I wanted to touch on a few things regarding eggs. We know that a breakfast of eggs and toast has long been a staple in American households for hundreds of years. But, answering the question are eggs healthy isn’t really so black and white. We do know that one large egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol—making it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol but we also know that eggs contain additional nutrients that may help LOWER the risk of heart disease. Tricky.
If you’ve followed along here for a while you know that I strongly encourage my clients to eat as cleanly as possible and to enjoy the things they love in moderation. I’m totally against the fad diets where we cut out a complete section of the food pyramid and I’m a huge fan of the Meditation diet.
Especially when it comes to eggs, I think it’s important to look at the big picture. If you’re having two eggs over easy for breakfast, plan accordingly and have a lunch and dinner that is low in saturated fat. Also, look at what are you eating with your eggs? To your cardiovascular system, a breakfast of scrambled eggs with salsa and gg crackers is much different than a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese on top, sausage and home fries.
The bottom line when it comes to eggs is to be mindful. They may not be the optimal choice daily for someone with a risk of heart disease but served with the right sides and cooked smartly, they definitely aren’t the worst. For those looking to eat healthy, keep your intake of eggs moderate to low, focus on emphasizing plant-based protein options when possible, and keep the butter and oil in the pan to a minimum. Instead of trying to single out a certain type of food, labeling it “good” or “bad,” try to evaluate that food in terms of how it plays into your overall diet.
A few facts about eggs. Did you know??
In Europe, eggs are stored on regular shelves and are not refrigerated!
While chicken eggs are the most common variety (especially in the U.S.), eggs from a range of birds including ducks and quail are also consumed worldwide.
Cage-free eggs mean that the chickens are not contained to cages and may roam freely indoors but not necessarily outdoors.
Free-range/roaming means chickens are allowed to roam freely outdoors but the amount of time varies and they are not necessarily given access to pasture settings.
Pasture-raised means chickens roam outdoors in a pasture setting and forage for food such as greens and insects.
Organic means eggs are from uncaged hens that are allowed free range of their houses and access to outdoor spaces. They also are fed an organic diet.
Labels that say Omega-3 enriched means that the eggs came from chickens that are fed a diet containing ingredients like flaxseed or fish oils. Labels that say pasteurized means that eggs have been heat-treated to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.
Eggs vary in available sizes from medium to jumbo, but eggs graded “large” are the most standard size preferred in recipes.
Now let’s get crackin’ on the questions! (Insert bad mom joke to embarrass my children here!). Each of the below questions came directly from clients of mine. Today, I’m sharing my responses to them with all of you!
Q: Will eating eggs every day give me high cholesterol?
A:It really depends on what your complete diet is – are you eating a diet full of processed foods, foods that are high in saturated fats (meat, full fat dairy – i.e. keto diet) and trans fats? If yes, then the answer is yes. This combined with eating eggs everyday may increase your cholesterol and may increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes. If you’re eating a cleaner more healthy Mediterranean-like diet, low in saturated fats and processed foods and rich in plants, nuts and seeds, then you may be able to eat 3-4 eggs a week (which is what I recommend to my clients) without increasing your cholesterol.
Q: Should I eat only egg whites and not the yolks?
A: While eating egg whites on their own is a great choice, especially for those asking about eggs and how they relate to a weight-loss plan (they are very high in protein, low in calories and low in cholesterol), in terms of overall health, you’re really missing out on a lot of nutritional value when you skip the egg yolk. Egg yolks contain folate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, selenium and phosphorus which makes them healthy in moderation. The moderation serving guidelines that I give to my clients that have no overall health issues is 3-4 eggs per week. 3-4 eggs can be eaten a week without it affecting ones cholesterol levels. If cholesterol is a serious concern for you, you may want to get your blood checked to see what your cholesterol level is from the get-go and talk about it with your doctor before changing up your eating habits.
Q: Are store bought egg whites healthy? I’ve seen them ready to go in containers with the eggs?
A: Yes, store bought egg whites are generally healthy. They simply are just the whites separated from the yolks. I like to buy organic or cage free egg whites, this way, I know the eggs have been processed much less. Any brand is fine as long as the label reads organic or cage free.
Q: Should I be buying only organic eggs?
A: Yes, I do like buying only organic eggs now. The good news is that they are much less expensive than years ago. Trader Joes has organic eggs that are a great price and great quality. Costco even sells organic eggs cheaply now. The reason why I think purchasing organic eggs is important is because chickens that produce organic eggs eat organic feed and do not receive hormones, vaccines, or antibiotics. The chickens are treated humanely as well. When possible, try to purchase pasture raised eggs from a local farm or your farmers market – those eggs also tend to be high in Omega 3 fatty acids as well. Also, not as a surprise, I also find that organic eggs taste better than conventional eggs. Give them a try!
We’ve got a lot more to cover when it comes to eggs. Check back here next week for the second half of my egg Q & A. I’ll also share some of my favorite egg recipes from my kitchen to yours! Until then, stay well! xx Janine