Eggs are better than originally thought.
Several years ago, scientists discovered that eggs contain less cholesterol than originally thought. This led to the weekly egg allowance being upped to three or four eggs. More recently, experts agreed it is safe to eat up to one whole egg per day.
Cholesterol is the culprit that gave eggs a bad reputation in the first place. However, cholesterol has only a small effect on their blood cholesterol - it is saturated fat that has the greatest cholesterol raising effect. In studies where people ate up to one whole egg there was no detectable effect on heart disease.
Recommendations for strict limitations on eating eggs has been dropped but the American Heart Association still recommends keeping cholesterol intake to an average of 300 milligrams per day.
One egg has about 213 milligrams of cholesterol and five grams of fat, of which only 1.5 grams are saturated.
An egg a day fits into a heart-healthy diet if your overall diet is otherwise low in cholesterol.
Cheat Sheet for Egg Carton Claims
Here is a look at 13 often confusing terms on egg cartons and what they mean:
- Grade The USDA seal signifies eggs that have been voluntarily inspected and graded for how the yolk and white will stand up to cooking; it's not related to safety. Nearly all eggs sold are grade.
- Size The weight of an egg determines its stated size. Note: Large eggs are the standard for cake mixes and in other recipes. If you use another size, results may differ.
- Color White, brown or any color shell is entirely dependent upon the breed of hen. It is no indication of nutritional value.
- Fertile Eggs from hens that have been around a rooster, so there's a possibility the eggs are fertile. A fertile label is no guarantee that they are, and there is no nutritional advantage to such eggs.
- Vegetarian Eggs from hens fed a plant-based diet, with no animal by-products in the feed, as is typical with regular eggs.
- Organic By virtue of USDA's organic standards, no pesticides, hormones or low dose antibiotics can be fed to the hens.
- Antibiotic-free Antibiotics are not administered to hens unless they are ill, because it would interfere with egg laying.
- Hormone-free All egg production is hormone-free, whether the carton states it or not. Now growth hormones are given to egg-laying chickens, because hormones would affect a hen's laying cycle.
- Cage-free Eggs from hens raised in open barns. The hens roam around the floor instead of being confined in stacks of cages. Nutritionally, cage-free eggs do not differ from caged hen's eggs, assuming they get the same feed.
- Free range Eggs from hens allowed access to the outdoors, theoretically with room to walk and flap their wings. The definition of "outdoors" varies, however, and can be a porch, a fenced-in yard or truly roaming around outside.
- Certified humane Eggs from hens in he Humane Farm Animal Care certification program, whose mission is to improve the lives of farm animals. Hens must be cage-free; strict housing and nesting guidelines allow for natural behaviors.
- Contains Omega-3s In the U.S. flaxseed and algae are added to hen feed to boost omega-3 fatty acid content of the yolks. The omega-3 typically extracted from algae is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the most potent, while that from flaxseed is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is much less potent. USDA labeling regulations reequire that the amount of omega-3s be listed on the label, but not the source; in the U.S. it's usually flaxseed. If you want a significant omega-3 boost, choose eggs that specify DHA. And note that the omega-3s are in the yolk, so don't eat just the whites or you'll miss out.
- Contains lutein Eggs provide lutein naturally, but eggs from hens raised on luten-fortified feed boast even higher amounts. Lutein from eggs is absorbed better than from other lutein-rich foods like spinach. A diet rich in lutein can help ward off age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss among older people. Again, lutein is in the yolk.
A Byte of Egg History
- In the year 1900, eggs were 14 cents per dozen.
- In 1919, eggs were 62 cents a dozen.
- In 1933, prohibition has ended and eggs cost 29 cents a dozen.
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