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Elements of a Healthy Diet - Eggs and Health

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Ideal protein - Low in saturated fat and calories, but an excellent source of complete protein, eggs provide an inexpensive and nutritious addition to your diet. © Provided by DKBooks Ideal protein - Low in saturated fat and calories, but an excellent source of complete protein, eggs provide an inexpensive and nutritious addition to your diet.

Ideal protein - Low in saturated fat and calories, but an excellent source of complete protein, eggs provide an inexpensive and nutritious addition to your diet.

Photo: Low-fat omelet - Made with two egg whites and only one yolk, the cholesterol level of this mushroom and tomato omelet is reduced, without changing the flavor. © Provided by DKBooks Low-fat omelet - Made with two egg whites and only one yolk, the cholesterol level of this mushroom and tomato omelet is reduced, without changing the flavor.

Low-fat omelet - Made with two egg whites and only one yolk, the cholesterol level of this mushroom and tomato omelet is reduced, without changing the flavor.

Eggs and Health

An excellent source of protein and other vital nutrients.

Eggs contain all the essential amino acids in the correct proportions and are therefore a good source of complete protein. They are also a significant source of the vitamins riboflavin (B2), folate, B12, D, and E, in addition to iron . The iron in egg yolks, like that found in meat, is easily absorbed by the body.

Eggs contain other vitamins and minerals in smaller amounts, including thiamine (B1), vitamin B6, phosphorus, and zinc. Eggs are also one of the best sources of choline, a substance involved in the transport of fat in the body. Choline is also important for the manufacture of phospholipids, which are the major structural components of cell membranes. Most of the vitamins and minerals in eggs are found in the yolk, but the white is also a good source of protein and contains little fat and no cholesterol.


Eggs and cholesterol

Of all the foods that are eaten in North America today, eggs are the main source of cholesterol. Yet, eggs are relatively low in calories and saturated fat—egg white does not contain any fat. However, the American Heart Association still recommends keeping track of the number of eggs you eat each day and limiting eggs yolks.


How many eggs can I eat?

Researchers have determined that saturated fat has more of an impact on blood-cholesterol levels than eating foods high in dietary cholesterol. However, your recommended total cholesterol intake should still be less than 200mg per day, especially if you have high blood cholesterol or a family history of cardiovascular disease. This is roughly the amount in one small egg. If you have eaten another source of saturated fat or cholesterol that day, you do not need to eat any more eggs. If you suffer from high blood cholesterol and/or your diet already includes large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats from other sources, you may need to further cut back on eggs.

There is no limit to how many egg whites you can eat, so look at ways to use more egg whites in your cooking. When cooking eggs, avoid adding butter and cheese, which will add saturated fat.


Eggs and salmonella

According to the official figures, about 1 in 20,000 eggs in the US is contaminated with salmonella. This can cause an infection with symptoms that include abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In order to minimize your risk of this infection, always store your eggs in a refrigerator and cook them thoroughly. Scrambled, poached, and boiled eggs should be cooked until firm. Homemade salad dressings made with raw eggs could contain salmonella. Commercial mayonnaise contains pasteurized eggs and can be stored safely at room temperature.

Infants, children, pregnant women, elderly people, and those who are chronically ill should not eat raw or undercooked eggs due to the risk of salmonella.

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