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Over the years, eggs have gotten a bad rap as cholesterol no-nos. But should you totally ditch them in your diet?
The Nutrition Facts:
One large egg contains 210 milligrams of cholesterol, which is about two-thirds of your daily need (300 milligrams per day is the recommended maximum). Most of us have two or three eggs for breakfast, which means we’re topping out on cholesterol in one meal. What you may not realize, however, is that saturated and trans fats influence your cholesterol levels the most, according to research.
Although eggs do contain cholesterol, they also have other benefits that make them a good-for-you food. They’re are full of vitamin A and D, which are mostly found in the yolk, and have some omega-3 fats, which are good for your heart. Nowadays, there are even eggs with added omega-3 fats available at your supermarket (a heads up: they can be quite pricey).
Another plus for eggs is the antioxidant lutein (pronounced LOO-teen), which helps promote healthy eyes and skin. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found the blood more successfully absorbs egg-sourced lutein than lutein from other foods (i.e. spinach and corn).
Better still, eggs are a “perfect protein” because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for growth and your body’s maintenance. There is as much protein in an egg yolk as there is in the egg white.
And yes, you might wonder: what’s the difference between brown and white eggs? Nothing nutritionally. The color all has to do with the hens earlobes — hens with white earlobes lay white eggs and hens with red earlobes lay brown eggs.
The American Heart Association says an egg a day is fine for a healthy diet, and you should try to replace other high cholesterol foods such as dairy, meats and poultry. If you follow that one-a-day rule, keep in mind that many baked goods contain eggs and are a source of cholesterol and fat as well.
Of course, a plain egg isn’t the only option; there are low cholesterol alternatives available. Egg substitutes work well in recipes, and 1/4 cup is equivalent to a single egg. Using a combination of whole eggs and egg whites when prepping a dish can also help lower the overall cholesterol tally. Always avoid frying eggs or cooking with tons of butter. Try poaching them in water.
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