A dietician explains why it’s time to stop demonising eggs

Scrambled, poached or fried? Here are the benefits of eggs, explained by a dietician – regardless of how you like to eat them.

When it comes to public perception, eggs have received the full scope of treatment. In the later half of the 1900s, they had a pretty bad rep, which might mean you grew up ordering the whites only or avoiding eggs altogether. Thankfully, a lot of the science behind eggs’ nutritional value has since been demystified – and coupled with a new-found love for brunch, eggs are back on the menu.

However, there’s still a load of scaremongering about eggs out there, from claims that they increase your cholesterol and lead to heart disease. The recent reporting of a new study published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) left people thinking that eating just half an egg a day could lead to early death – but experts have since clearly debunked these findings. 

“The conclusions of this study are overblown,” says Dr Ada Garcia, senior lecturer in public health nutrition at the University of Glasgow. “Blaming eggs alone for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a simplistic and reductionist approach to the concept of diet and disease prevention.”

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What’s the deal with eggs and cholesterol?

“Animals produce their own cholesterol, so any time we eat an animal product we will be consuming some cholestrol,” says Arianna Rodriguez, registered dietician and co-founder of Embody Health London. “But the beautiful thing about the human body is that we have a liver which can recalibrate and regulate our body as we digest any type of food.” 

Despite what you might have heard, not all of the this cholesterol simply sits in our bodies. “There is a purpose to cholesterol,” says Arianna, including synthesising hormones and support your metabolism, among other things.

Of course, variety is important. “We can’t just have eggs nor can we just have spinach. It’s always going to be about moderation,” reminds Ariana. 

What are the benefits of eggs?

The reality is that eggs provide a source of one of the highest quality proteins that we can have – in fact, they’re seen as the gold standard. “The scoring system that food researchers use is called a digestible indispensable amino acid score and eggs are used as the baseline which we compare all other protein sources to,” explains Arianna. That’s because they contain all 21 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in well-balanced measure. 

As well as the macronutrients such as proteins and fats, it’s also important to look at micronutrient content of foods. The good news: eggs contain a lot of micronutrients, including the below.

  • Potassium, which is essential for muscle contractions
  • B vitamins, to regulate energy and metabolism
  • Vitamin A, supporting bone, eye and skin
  • Selenium, important for the thyroid to function properly 
  • Phosphorus, strengthening the bones

How many eggs should you eat a day?

You know that a six egg omelette for every meal isn’t the answer, but how many should you actually be eating? 

According to the NHS, there is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat. Some studies show that having two or three eggs a day can increase the ‘good’ type of cholesterol which is what we associate with improved heart health and lower risk of heart disease and stroke. And yes, that’s the whole egg, not just the white. “The egg yolk is minimised and thought to just be about fat – when it actually offers so much more than that,” says Ariana. 

In fact, the yolk contains half of the protein and most of the other vitamins and minerals. “The vitamin A is what gives it that yellow, orangey or reddish colour, so the darker the yolk the more vitamin A you’re getting,” Ariana adds. 

Take it from a registered dietician – if you’re eating a balanced diet, you’ve probably got nothing to worry about. 

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