Eggs play a valuable role in helping consumers achieve a balanced, varied, and nutritious diet, the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) concluded in a report released today.
"When people hear the word 'eggs,' they often think 'cholesterol' and 'bad,'" said Dr Ruth Kava, ACSH's director of nutrition. "In fact," she continued, "although egg yolks are high in cholesterol, they only contribute about a third of the typical American's dietary cholesterol. Eggs also provide essential nutrients, such as protein, riboflavin, folate, and vitamins B12, D and E."
Recent research, adds the ACSH, shows that the most potent dietary culprits for raising levels of cholesterol in the blood are the saturated fats in foods, not the cholesterol. Major studies indicate that dietary cholesterol has only a small effect on blood levels of cholesterol for most people. The council added that little, if any, relationship exists between egg consumption and heart disease risk for healthy people.
The council does warn however that since moderation is the key to good nutrition, eating great quantities of eggs or any other food is not a good idea. But abstaining from eggs is also unwise, it affirms, because this would mean missing out on the positive aspects of eggs.
People with high serum cholesterol levels who are sensitive to dietary cholesterol may need to strictly limit their egg yolk consumption so they do not exceed the current Recommended Daily Value of 300 milligrams.
The ACSH claims that another concern about eggs is the possibility that they might be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium that can cause gastrointestinal illness. But, the council stressed, only a small percentage (about 1 in 20,000) of the eggs produced in the US run the risk of being contaminated from the hens that lay them.
"Eggs are a valuable component of the American diet, and it would be unfortunate if consumers avoided them because of unwarranted fears," said Dr Elizabeth Whelan, president of ACSH. "Thorough cooking will eliminate bacteria, and most people can eat eggs without worrying that their blood cholesterol levels will be affected."