[tweetmeme] Mention cholesterol and what food jumps to mind? Probably the egg. Since the early 1980’s it has been the much maligned food icon of high cholesterol. True, it is high in cholesterol but it has hardly any saturated fat which, as we now know, is the real culprit that sends our cholesterol levels soaring. A ‘big breakfast’ of eggs with fatty bacon, sausages and toast lathered with butter will certainly send up your cholesterol level. The bacon, sausages and butter will do a pretty good job of that even without the eggs! But egg sandwiches (without butter), poached eggs, nicoise salad (hard boiled eggs, green beans, tuna, potato, tomatoes with a garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil dressing), scrambled eggs or omelette with tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and herbs are all fantastic nutritious meals.
So it was with a collective sigh of relief that we heard the good news – we’re finally allowed to eat more than 3 eggs a week. At least that’s the latest decision made by the Australian Heart Foundation who now allow up to six eggs a week. It follows similar relaxing of egg restrictions by the Irish and British Heart Foundations based on the latest science.
It’s never felt quite right to limit something as nutritious and unadulterated as an egg. And I wonder, during these past 30 or 40 years of minimal eggs, what we have eaten in its place – perhaps a low fibre, sugary cereal for breakfast or maybe chocolate nut spread sandwiches for lunch? Just a few weeks ago a friend asked me if it was OK to give her kids more than three eggs a week. “They really love eggs,” she explained. “And I feel mean saying they can’t have them.” I told her that of course she could give them more – and there it was again, that sigh of relief.
Eggs are high in protein, they have great satiety value which means you won’t feel hungry for ages after eating them, and they have all sorts of antioxidants and other nutrients for good health. The yellow colour of the yolk is from an antioxidant called lutein. It helps protect the rods and cones at the back of your eye so you are less likely to suffer macular degeneration. Even more interesting is a nutrient called choline. It has anti-inflammatory effects and, like folate, is critical for normal development of the brain. That’s a whole story in itself which I’ll write about sometime soon.
See also: my article on 15 eggs a day!