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Nutrition Smarts

Eggs and Cholesterol

Ounce for ounce, eggs have a lot more cholesterol than any other food. It's all in the yolk, which contains over two-thirds of the suggested daily limit for cholesterol. At the same time, eggs are rich in protein, B vitamins, iron and other minerals.

One large egg has about 213 milligrams of cholesterol. Experts recommend keeping your daily cholesterol intake below 300 milligrams.

When experts first recognized the connection between cholesterol and heart disease, people were discouraged from eating eggs. But over the years, as knowledge about cholesterol and diet has grown, the advice about eggs has loosened.

Today, the American Heart Association no longer makes a recommendation about how many egg yolks people can eat each week. In the past, the estimable group had suggested limiting egg yolks to three to four a week as a way to help people limit their average daily cholesterol intake. However, the group does recommend that egg yolks be limited to two a week for people who have or are at high risk of heart disease.

The sea change in thinking about eggs is due in part to the fact that scientists now believe that saturated fats and trans-fatty acids have a greater impact than dietary cholesterol in raising the cholesterol levels in our bodies, particularly LDL cholesterol.

The bottom line remains that eating an egg puts you close to the recommended daily limit for cholesterol, so you need to make sure to round out your other food choices with heart-healthy selections like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Or switch to egg whites or egg substitutes. There is no cholesterol in egg whites, and you can use two egg whites in place of one egg yolk in most recipes. Egg substitutes have the same amount of protein as real eggs, are usually nonfat and are enriched with vitamins and other nutrients.

See our baking tips for more healthy cooking advice.


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