Dietary recommendations for eggs have changed a lot over the years, and you may be confused as to whether eggs increase your risk for heart disease due to their high cholesterol levels. Eggs can be part of a healthy diet if you aim to keep your total daily cholesterol intake less than 300 milligrams a day.
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One large egg will contribute around 72 calories and 6 grams of protein to the diet, making it an excellent source of protein. In addition, it adds about 5 grams of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrate, and it is good source of certain vitamins and minerals. The cholesterol content of one large egg is 185 milligrams, providing 62 percent of the recommended daily intake of 300 milligrams.
The egg yolk has received most of the skepticism regarding heart health; however, it provides most of the beneficial vitamins and minerals. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, the yolk contributes around 75 percent of the egg's calories and 40 percent of its protein. Additionally, vitamins A and D, many B vitamins and phosphorus are found in the yolk. Lutein, zeaxanthin and choline, which aid in vision and memory, are also supplied.
Egg whites only contribute around 17 calories per large egg, and about 3.6 grams of protein. They are cholesterol- and fat-free, which is why many individuals choose to only eat the egg whites. However, egg whites do not provide the same level of vitamins and minerals as egg yolks. Riboflavin, potassium and sodium are some of the few vitamins and minerals found at higher levels in the white than in the yolk.
The American Heart Association states that for individuals with normal cholesterol levels, eggs, including egg yolks, can be included as part of a healthy and well-rounded diet. However, they should be a substitute for other foods that may contribute to your daily cholesterol intake, such as meat, dairy products and poultry. For example, if you have an egg for breakfast, pair it with fresh fruit instead of pork sausage, which can also contribute high levels of cholesterol in the diet.