One of the simple questions that I have to answer my patients is whether it is OK to have eggs every day.
My answer is: If you’re healthy, you can eat eggs guilt-free. But how many and how often is another matter.
Nutritionally, eggs have a lot to offer. With about 70 calories in one large egg, they’re a great source of protein that helps stabilize blood sugar levels and provides structure to the body. Egg protein is also high quality, providing all the essential amino acids.
One large egg is also an excellent source of selenium, an anti-oxidant mineral that fights cell damage caused by free radicals and supports thyroid and immune function and riboflavin, a B vitamin that helps turn carbohydrates into energy, and vitamin D, important for strong bones and teeth.
All good stuff. But I cannot say whether an egg a day will keep the doctor away. The science is not entirely clear either. A 2003 study published in the British Medical Journal found that among 115,000 adults followed for 14 years, eating one egg daily was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Eggs can also fill you up, and may even help you eat less.
In a study published in 2013 in the European Journal of Nutrition, 30 healthy men were randomly assigned to eat one of three breakfasts — eggs on toast, cornflakes with milk and toast or a croissant and orange juice — on three separate occasions, each separated by one week. Subjects felt more full and less hungry and had less desire to eat after the egg breakfast than the other breakfasts. They also ate less at lunch and dinner after having the egg breakfast as opposed to the other breakfasts.
But there are cautions. Eggs are a source of saturated fat and too much saturated fat has been shown to raise total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
For those with heart disease, type 2 diabetes or high LDL cholesterol levels, the American Heart Association and the US National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) suggest limiting cholesterol intake to 200 milligrams daily. One large egg contains about 180 milligrams of cholesterol.
So I advise my patients to stick to one whole egg per day or seven per week. A few additional egg whites during the week is also OK.
Be aware of other foods typically made with egg yolks, particularly if you’re at risk for or have high cholesterol, heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
Dr Decha is a medical doctor in Bangkok.