Geese-a-Layin’: Should you eat the eggs?

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Healthy or Unhealthy?

A long time ago, eggs were a food to avoid. However, for many years health professionals have known that taboo wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Eggs aren’t the demons they were once thought.

Calories and Protein

A large egg has 75 calories and 6 grams of protein. Eggs are one the of the best protein sources, since it is a complete protein and easily digested. The egg white is about 20 calories and 3.5 grams of protein. Egg yolks are about 55 calories and 2.5 grams of protein.

Fat and Cholesterol

A large egg has 5 grams of total fat of which 1.5 grams are saturated (the kind of fat that increases risk of heart disease). The rest of the fat, 3.5 grams are unsaturated, which are the healthy fats. This make the egg about 30% saturated fat and 70% unsaturated fats. The cholesterol content of one egg is about 200 mg, or about 2/3 of our total cholesterol recommendation for a day. This is what was once thought to make eggs so unhealthy. While the dietary guidelines still suggest watching cholesterol intake, in most people it does not increase the risk of heart disease as much as saturated fat intake.

Versatile Food

While I’m not suggesting the 3-egg omelet every day, I do suggest that the fear of eggs is over-blown. Eggs are ok, and make a great breakfast, snack, or dinner. One or two eggs (or one whole egg and an added egg white) are fine for breakfast with some fruit and toast. A hard-boiled egg makes a great snack or accompaniment to lunch. And if you aren’t sure what to have for dinner, a veggie omelet is perfect. However, I don’t suggest doing this all in one day.

Make Them Yourself

Making your eggs yourself is much better than having them at a restaurant. Most people don’t realize that restaurants add fat, in the way of butter or oil, in the cooking process. You can ask for the eggs without added fat, but many people don’t remember to do so. If you choose an egg dish as a restaurant, remember there is a high likelihood of much higher calories.

Food Poisoning

Because of risk of salmonella poisoning with raw or undercooked eggs, they need cooking until the whites are firm. Egg dishes, such as Quiche, must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

For the most part, risk of salmonella being in an egg is rare: about 1 per 20,000 eggs. The risk increases with poor refrigeration, cross-contamination, or poor quality control at the farm. The problem is we never know which one egg is contaminated, so we must treat them as if they all are contaminated.

If you need to use raw eggs in a recipe where they are not eventually cooked, you can buy pasteurized eggs, which don’t have the risk of contamination in humans.

How do you like your eggs? My favorite: scrambled.

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3 thoughts on “Geese-a-Layin’: Should you eat the eggs?

  1. ConcernedFoodie says:

    I think this is a good article. I am really concerned with what I eat and track my foods. Eggs are a huge part of my diet and I usually mix raw eggs with my protein drinks. I think that its awesome you highlighted using pasteurized shelled eggs and the risks of potential food poisoning from eating raw and uncooked eggs. With the recent egg recalls, I don’t think you can ever be too sure. Great info here.

    • Shelley Rael, MS RD LD says:

      Thank you for your feedback. Eggs are so versatile and a perfect protein. I’m glad you have them as part of your healthy diet.

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