by Kaylee Kroyer, RD, LD, Healthy Living Coach, YMCA of Central Kentucky
Scrambled, fried, or boiled. Over easy, sunny side, or poached. The Easter Bunny leaves them, and everybody loves them – that’s right, we’re talking about eggs! For such a small, simple food item, there has been an astounding amount of controversy back and forth surrounding this fragile food. With every passing decade the “experts” seem to have contradicting opinions on this breakfast staple. So what’s the deal? What do we know to be true about eggs?
It’s what’s on the inside that matters.
If you crack open these eggs, you won’t find candy or treats, but instead you’ll find a number of valuable nutrients. Each egg has about 80 calories while providing 8 grams of protein. They’re also rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K as well as iron, zinc, and copper. Lastly, this food rich in powerful antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These are part of the carotenoid family and help to prevent night blindness in adults. This means they’re not only a rich source of nutrients to help fuel you today, but they work to keep you well for the years to come.
Where’s the controversy?
Eggs earned a bad reputation due to their cholesterol content. Eggs contain about 190 mg of cholesterol and the previous recommendation was to consume less than 300 mg per day. However, in 2015 The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine determined that this guideline wasn’t necessary. What we know now is that dietary cholesterol intake does not have as significant of an impact on serum cholesterol as previously thought. Experts agree that saturated fat intake has a more significant negative impact on serum cholesterol levels. This means that eggs are not to blame for the development of heart disease in the American population, but rather a diet that is overall high in saturated fats. In fact, The American Heart Association encourages healthy adults to enjoy an egg a day as part of a healthy diet.
Here’s what we can love about eggs.
Good source of protein.
When we exercise, we break down our muscles and with a diet rich in protein we are able to rebuild, strengthen, and repair those muscles. They’re rebuilt to be stronger and that is how we are able to see increased strength with regular physical activity. Eggs provide 8 grams of high-quality protein, meaning it provides all 9 essential amino acids.
There is a rumor that “healthy foods” are expensive, and while they can be, they certainly don’t have to be. A dozen eggs can be purchased for less than $1, which is about the cost of a single “healthy” protein bar. A dozen eggs, however, provides 12 servings of a protein rich snack compared to one serving in a protein bar.
From breakfast to baking, eggs play a crucial role in completing a meal or holding things together! Scrambled eggs pair beautifully with whole wheat toast and fresh fruit for a filling and nutritious breakfast. A hard-boiled egg can be packed as part of an afternoon snack to give a protein-rich pick-me-up. We add eggs to certain baked goods or foods such as meatloaf because it helps to hold the finished product together. They’re such a useful addition to the kitchen tool box.
Here is to finally putting an end to the war on eggs and cracking the myth that they are negatively impacting our health. I encourage you to freely enjoy eggs as part of your regular and balanced diet. Celebrate the holiday weekend by trying a new recipe that features these nutritious gems such as the Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash below!
Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash
8 slices/pieces of breakfast meat (I used turkey bacon when I made it, but feel free to swap for traditional bacon, turkey sausage, etc.)
3 gloves of garlic – minced
2 sweet potatoes – washed, peeled, and cubed
2-3 chopped bell peppers
3 cups of kale – roughly chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 TBSP olive oil (as needed)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In an oven safe medium sized skillet, cook the breakfast meat until brown, set aside.
Using the same pan, sauté the garlic until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Depending on the type of meat used, there may not be enough oil/fat in the pan. If this is the case, add olive oil. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and cook on medium heat and cook for 5 minutes.
Add bell peppers and cover with a lid, cook for 3-5 minutes or until bell peppers. Add kale and cook for 2-3 minutes or until leaves become bright green and tender.
Season with paprika, salt, and pepper. Return meat to pan. Gently crack 4 eggs onto the hash and place skillet in the oven.
Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Cook for 10 minutes for slightly runny yolks or 15 minutes for solid yolks. Enjoy!
Note: consult your physician if you have any specific concerns regarding your serum cholesterol level. The information in this post is intended for the general population and is not intended to treat or diagnose. For additional information and to schedule an individual nutrition counseling appointment, contact Kaylee Kroyer, RD, LD at firstname.lastname@example.org.