Four Egg Myths Cracked by a Registered Dietitian
It’s great to look at myths about food, and learn truths!
When I have to come up with a solution to a problem, I first deconstruct the question carefully. Sometimes just thinking about the meaning of words serves to uncover my own preconceived notions that may be interfering with my progress toward resolution.
When speaking with my clients about making positive weight-wise changes, I often find this same type of thinking. Often, it’s grounded in tradition. Traditions are nice, but they’re not always healthy, right? For example, my grandmother, a wonderful woman…generous to a fault, but everything she cooked she finished with a chunk of butter. She’d steam green beans…fresh, crisp, brightly colored, just perfectly done. They’d be marvelous all on their own, with a dash of sea salt. But she would NOT serve them without the butter. A big chunk of butter. “Grandma…your cholesterol!” But that was her tradition, and no matter what, vegetables weren’t vegetables without butter. So…those nice green beans, which, by the way, you can eat by the bushel and still not make a significant dent in your calories for the day, became little fat carriers…and became ‘fattening’. Which brings me to my first myth…
Myth 1: Eggs Are Fattening
Truth? Eggs are thinning! Each has only about 70-80 calories, but boy, they pack a punch of protein (7 grams of high-quality), vitamins (especially A & D), minerals such as iron, with carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, helpful in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. Plus choleine, a brain function nutrient! However, just like my grannies’ green beans, eggs can become saturated fat carriers, such as when fried in butter or margarine, or swamped with heavy cream and cheese. At breakfast, replacing the usual bagel (refined carbohydrates) with satiating eggs can help you lose weight. The Takeaway: Poached, hard or soft-boiled, eggs satisfy without added fat. My favorite is an open-faced omelet or a frittata, with lots of veggies and topped with some feta cheese (naturally low in saturated fat).
Myth 2: Raw Eggs are Unsafe
Truth? Depends! If they are Safest Choice™ Eggs, they are pasteurized, so you don’t have to worry about Salmonella, which is, after all, why most people avoid raw eggs, and also why some hospitals and restaurants refuse to serve poached or soft-boiled eggs. The brand of egg you choose counts. The Take-away: In recipes that call for raw eggs, such as in your eggnog recipe for the holidays or if you’re craving a soft-cooked eggs, choose Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs. More about eating raw eggs.
Myth 3: High Cholesterol? You Can’t Eat Eggs
Truth? Research links high cholesterol to a number of factors, and health experts note that that a diet lower in saturated fats is a more effective recommendation for the prevention and treatment of high cholesterol compared to recommending a strict limit on dietary cholesterol, such as in whole eggs. The Takeaway: It’s not the egg, it’s the additions. As in Myth#1, instead of making your eggs (and foods in general) sat fat carriers, make foods better, without butter. The latest research shows that most people can enjoy eggs daily, and that egg consumption is not linked to high cholesterol. In fact, the top reasons for having high cholesterol are genetic and weight-related, and a new study links high ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol to high levels of a protein made in fat tissue, so getting to a healthy weight lowers your risk for heart disease in more ways than one.
Myth 4: Low-fat diets are best for weight loss
Truth? In the context of healthy foods, fat is not a four-letter word! Fat is one of our three main nutrients, along with carbohydrates and protein, all necessary for good health. Think ‘whole’ for good health. The type of fat you eat makes a big difference. In general, aim for about 30% of calories from fat daily. The Takeaway: Replace saturated fat-laden butter and cream (and whole milk dairy) and trans fat in margarine and shortening with olive oil, nuts, avocado, eggs, and low and nonfat dairy. Whip those eggs with some nonfat buttermilk; sauté your veggies with fresh garlic and onions in a nonstick pan with some olive oil.