Eggs: the Yolk of the Matter
Eggs have been in and out of favour and plagued by controversy over the last few decades, which is still abound it seems. The recent article in the Daily Mail insinuated that eggs may be two-thirds as bad as smoking if you are at risk of heart disease. This came from a single study that was not conclusive and is not appropriate for extrapolation to the entire population in any way.
Much of the controversy around eggs is down to the level of cholesterol in egg yolks. A high blood cholesterol level is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (among many others such as age, sex, smoking, lack of exercise etc.); this is not the same as a high cholesterol consumption. Consumption of cholesterol has less effect on blood cholesterol than total fat intake. Additionally owing to changes in chicken feed in the UK, eggs are lower in cholesterol these days than they used to be.
So eggs are lower in cholesterol, fat, saturated fat and calories than in the 1980s and, because of their amino-acid profile, they are one of the best sources of protein for a human. They are one of the few foods to naturally contain vitamin D and they provide folate, iodine and several antioxidants. They also contain selenium, a nutrient that is limited in plant foods by the levels in the soil they grow in. It is therefore difficult to predict the content of selenium in many foods.
Because high-protein foods promote satiety, people who eat eggs for breakfast have been shown to consume fewer calories throughout the day which is helpful if you are trying to watch your weight (adding butter and cream to scrambled versions notwithstanding).
What’s bad about eggs? Almost nothing really. And, unless you have quite a rare form of high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolaemia – check with your doctor), there is no reason to limit your egg intake at all: fill your cups.