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Egg nutrition update – how many can I have a week?

Posted on : 09-08-2009 | By : Cindy | In : Food safety, On my plate


time eggs[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!

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Comments (10)

Lecithin (the name lecithin is derived from the Greek word for egg yolk), in the presence of quality oils such as cold pressed safflower or sunflower seed oil, helps break down residual fats in the liver. Because eggs contain both lecithin and cholesterol it runs counter to the conventional advice not to eat free range or organic eggs if you are an atherosclerotic patient.

So, the fact that I tell my ‘fitness fanatic’ son that he shouldnt eat 2 eggs a day continuously is wrong!!!?
Can I sigh a relief knowing that I am not aiding my son’s short future by allowing such quantities (12 per week)?
I hope so!

Hi Lynzi,
12 eggs a week is quite a lot!! The Australian National Heart Foundation recommends 6 a week. As I am sure you already know the healthiest diets are where you eat a little bit of a lot of different foods. Encourage him to replace a few eggs with other healthy foods. The Australian Institute of Sport has some great nutrition information and food ideas for ‘fitness fanatics’. Good luck!!

oh my bad . Been eating four or five eggs a day for forty years. cholesterol is just fine!

You are a great example of how general advice doesn’t account for individual variation: one size doesn’t fit all!

Eat 3 eggs a week and you are safe eat 4 eggs a week you are pushing it

Wow Tony, that’s a fine razors edge to be dancing around.. 1 egg difference a week between 3 and 4 is that dangerous.. Better stay away from eggs completely.

I eat 2/3 eggs a day and Im working out 22 male 180cm/90kg is it ok or not? (Bigboned and active)

I’d just stick to egg whites if you are going to eat 2/3 a day. I work out as well and used to rely on eggs for protein. I’d have 5 egg whites and one whole egg. But I didn’t eat them every day.

Asking how many eggs you should eat is really not a valid question in my opinion. Any amount of bad cholesterol (LDL) which eggs contain is not good for your arteries and it depends on how much bad cholesterol you are consuming from other foods.

Like everything there is an “accepted” range however my understanding is as it gets lower so does your risk of heart disease.

The reason why some people can eat a lot of foods containing high levels of cholesterol and not suffer from heart disease is, in some cases (I’m sure there are probably many other reasons), due to the fact they have larger than normal arteries therefore less likely for them to clog up.

I think this swings both ways though, some people have smaller than usual arteries and are more prone to heart disease. So why take the risk? You can get all of the health benefits that eggs provide from other foods that have zero amounts of cholesterol.

If you eat a lot of fibre you can also lower your levels of bad cholesterol from eggs also.

Never just assume that because one person has eaten however many eggs a day and not been affected then it won’t affect you either.

So personally I’d definitely not recommend having them as part of your staple diet. Now and then is probably OK, depends on what other food you eat though.

Cindy makes a very valid point in regards to what you replace eggs with. Sometimes it’s better to go with the lesser of two evils. Not that I’d say eggs are evil, just not ideal.

Anyhow this is just what I believe to be the best advice based on my own research. There are always contradicting studies when it comes to health and nutrition. That’s why you can’t get to caught up in it all. However if you are eating large amounts of anything you should be aware of potential consequences.

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