For five decades, the American Heart Association has celebrated February as American Heart Month. It’s a month dedicated to raising awareness about the leading cause of death in America – cardiovascular disease. Causing one in three deaths each year, there are many factors that lead to heart disease, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
For decades, consumers have been given mixed messages about dietary cholesterol, especially as it relates to eggs. However, egg lovers can rejoice this February – and all year long – because recent research reveals that healthy adults can enjoy eggs daily without affecting their risk of heart disease.
According to a 2011 report from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), eggs are 14 percent lower in cholesterol than previously thought. The USDA-ARS reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs for the study. As a result, they found that an average large egg contained 185 mg of cholesterol (down from 215 mg), which is well within the 300 mg recommended daily value of cholesterol.
This confirms more than 40 years of academic research, including the following:
• A 2008 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, which concluded that cholesterol-rich foods should not be excluded from dietary advice for weight loss.
• A 2007 study reported in Medical Science Monitor revealing that eating one or two eggs a day did not increase the risk of heart disease among healthy adults.
• A review of more than 25 studies appearing in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2000 showing that eating one egg per day isn’t associated with increased risk of heart disease in healthy men and women.
The extensive research reveals that eggs can be part of a heart-healthy diet. In fact, information about the health benefits of eggs is a leading reason why the American Heart Association guidelines were changed in March 2002 to allow one egg per day into the average healthy American’s diet, ending the association’s 30-year campaign that limited egg consumption to no more than three per week.
Additional Reasons to Love Eggs
Eggs offer a number of beneficial nutrients that promote good health. One egg has approximately 75 calories and 13 essential vitamins and minerals. Eggs also are an excellent source of selenium and a good source of high-quality protein, vitamin B 12, phosphorus and riboflavin.
Another important nutrient found in eggs is choline, considered essential for normal fetal/infant brain development and for memory, even later in life. And, choline also helps to reduce the risk of heart disease. Choline, like folate, is involved in breaking down homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood that may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease. In fact, research shows that choline deficiency results in increased homocysteine levels. This may help to explain why 30 years of research have shown that healthy adults can consume eggs without increasing their risk of heart disease.
Additionally, research shows that high-quality protein, like that found in eggs, helps build muscle strength and allows people to feel full for longer, helping them stay energized, and maintain a healthy weight. At an average retail cost of less than 15 cents apiece, eggs are one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein per serving in today’s marketplace.
Time and time again, eggs have proven to be an important, healthy and fun part of Americans’ diets. During American Heart Month – and every month – consumers have every reason to take advantage of the high protein value and broad nutritional benefits eggs offer.
Jim Chakeres is the executive vice president for the Ohio Poultry Association. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.