If you ignore the benefits of eggs in your diet, you could be missing out on a protein source that adds bone-building vitamin D to your system. However, eggs are high in cholesterol, which is a source of fats that can adversely affect your health if you have heart disease. Moderation is key when it comes to eating eggs so you can reap the nutritional benefits without contributing too much cholesterol to your diet. Always speak with your physician before beginning any diet program to ensure that your health can support a diet with an increased number of eggs.
Dangers of Cholesterol
Eggs get their bad nutritional reputation because they are high in cholesterol, a fat that naturally circulates in your blood. You need some amounts of cholesterol in your diet to stay healthy. For example, cholesterol is responsible for building the protective cell walls in your body. If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, however, the blood becomes thicker and harder for your heart to pump. The result can be high blood pressure and heart disease if your cholesterol levels creep up too high.
Cholesterol Numbers and Eggs
An egg’s yolk is where the cholesterol is housed, and the average large egg yolk contains an estimated 186 mg of cholesterol, according to MayoClinic.com. The recommended daily cholesterol intake for a healthy person is 300 mg, while a person with risk factors such as heart disease, diabetes or high low-density lipoprotein, or “bad” cholesterol, levels should consume less than 200 mg of cholesterol per day. Because one egg yolk contains almost the entire daily cholesterol intake recommended, many avoid the egg for fear of raising cholesterol levels.
Egg’s Nutritional Merits
Don’t write off eggs just yet -- they contain many nutritional factors that make them a good choice. One example is choline, which is a nutrient associated with brain function. One egg contains 25 percent of your recommended choline intake for the day. Eggs also are a source of vitamin D, a nutrient that works with calcium to keep your bones strong. Because few natural sources of vitamin D exist as food options, eggs can be a healthy and convenient alternative to high-fat vitamin D options such as beef liver.
How to Eat Them
While eggs are high in cholesterol, they are low in saturated fats, which are considered the most health-affecting form of fats. This means you shouldn’t skip eating an egg in favor of a morning sausage patty, which is high in heart-clogging saturated fats. What you can do is enjoy a whole egg with a meal and limit your remaining intake of high-cholesterol foods, such as full-fat dairy or meat products. Another option is to consume only egg whites or egg substitutes, which don’t have the cholesterol egg yolks do. The only drawback for these options is they don’t contain the vitamin D egg yolks have.