The egg is in hot water again thanks to recent reports of high cholesterol levels in the U.S. population. With this linkage between high serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease (CHD), these studies and others have led people to believe CHD is the fault of “those dirty rotten eggs.”
Not so fast.
The three major risk factors for coronary heart disease are cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and elevated serum cholesterol levels, according to the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH).
Other risk factors for this disease – gender and family history for example – cannot be changed – or not easily, ACSH says. Males appear to be at greater risk than females.
If there is a history of heart disease in your family, giving up that omelet will do nothing to change genetics.
Some risk factors can be controlled, though not necessarily through diet. The risk of coronary heart disease can be reduced through exercise and stress reduction, ACSH says.
How do eggs fit into all of this?
Eggs contain high levels of cholesterol – 218 mg of cholesterol per egg yolk, studies say. But with all the bad ink lately, it is easy to forget the benefits of eggs.
Eggs continue to be an excellent protein source and low in calories. Eggs also contain riboflavin, vitamin B12, folic acid, phosphorus, iodine, iron, vitamin A, calcium, zinc and thiamin. Eggs are convenient, versatile and low in price.
Every year, there’s talk about “lowered-cholesterol” eggs – you know eggs without the yolk, egg whites, etc. This sounds good until you also hear about eggs that smelled like fish. Seems the hen’s diet consisted of fish oil supplements. Some eggs in this category actually contained more cholesterol than the USDA standards.
All cost significantly more than average large eggs.
So what is good for breakfast?
Eggs in moderation is the simple answer. Major health organizations recommend three eggs a week.
So go ahead and eat that occasional omelet, just remember to vary your breakfast with fruits, cereals, muffins, bagels and other foods.
Here’s to health and egg in your diet.
John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.
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