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The Health Benefits of Eggs

May 12, 2020
Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

There’s a lot of conflicting research floating around when it comes to the subject of eggs. At first, scientists told men and women concerned about their heart health to avoid eggs at all costs, because the high cholesterol content of the eggs could raise one’s risk of heart disease and stroke. But years later, more studies were done on the matter, and scientists suddenly had a new perspective: eggs weren’t as bad as we thought, they admitted, so there’s really no harm in eating them. 

 

Their conclusion didn’t last forever, though. As research progressed over the years, scientists kept changing their mind on the health effects of eggs. Even today, there’s no real consensus on how eggs affect the heart, but we do have a good deal of new insights on the topic. Below is what the scientific community has to say about eggs.

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Today, most researchers know that eggs have a surprising number of health benefits, far from what they thought 50, 20, or even 10 years ago. Eggs are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and choline, all of which help the body in different ways. Besides the numerous vitamins that eggs have to offer, eggs contain high levels of protein, an essential macronutrient that helps build your muscles–one large egg can contain up to 12 grams of protein. Not only, then, are eggs good for you, but they also taste great and are a crucial ingredient in many meals. 

 

But what about the effects of eggs on the heart? Well, it’s true that they contain high levels of cholesterol. A typical egg contains around 180 mg of cholesterol, which is 62% of your recommended daily intake. And let’s be real, who sits down and decides to eat only one egg? Two eggs already exceeds your daily cholesterol allowance, and that can’t be good for the heart, can it?

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This is what researchers in the 60s and 70s got wrong. They assumed that the high cholesterol content in eggs contributed to the total cholesterol levels in the body. But today, we know something they didn’t: Most of the cholesterol in our bodies doesn’t actually come from foods high in cholesterol. Instead, it’s produced by the liver, when we eat high amounts of saturated and trans fats. Eggs do contain some amounts of saturated fat but not enough to negatively affect the cardiovascular system.

 

What does this mean for you? Well, scientists today say that eating a couple of eggs a day is perfectly fine. However, if you have high cholesterol levels to begin with or suffer from heart disease, it’s best to keep your egg consumption to a minimum–no more than seven eggs a week. Even these recommendations are disputed, though. Sadly, the jury is still out on the health effects of eggs, but we do know a lot more than we did in earlier days. Most researchers agree, however, that as long as you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise, you can go ahead and enjoy those scrambled eggs with your breakfast.

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