How healthy are eggs? Do they deserve their reputation?

Easter is just around the corner - and that means that the egg consumption increases in Germany, where colored Easter eggs belong to this holiday’s customs. Chicken eggs are not only popular at Easter, but throughout the year as breakfast egg or omelet. How healthy are eggs after all?

Ostereier
The IFB wishes a HAPPY EASTER - FROHE OSTERN! (Photo: Jan Schmidt/flickr.com)

There is an ongoing "bad egg - good egg" discussion. The role of the round animal product regarding human health has been controversial for many years. It is often said that eggs are "cholesterol bombs" and thus harm human health. However, the body needs a certain amount of cholesterol for normal cell functions. Most of it is produced in the liver.

Harms alimentary cholesterol human health?

The question is how much the cholesterol in food influences the cholesterol level in the blood? In contrast to the "good" cholesterol in the blood (HDL) too much of the "harmful" cholesterol (LDL) increases namely the risk for cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack or stroke. A Chinese-American meta-analysis, the British Medical Journal covered in 2013, came to the conclusion that the daily breakfast egg is not harmful. It has been confirmed that cholesterol intake via nutrition contributes only slightly to the level of "harmful" LDL cholesterol in the blood. The consumption of saturated fatty acids found primarily in fatty meat, sausages, cheese, butter and other animal fats is far more harmful. In the egg, the level of saturated fatty acids is minimal. It should also be pointed out that a lack of exercise promotes high cholesterol levels.

Warning of egg consumption is repealed

The US-American "National Institute of Health," the main health authority of the government, and its Committee on Nutrition Recommendations (Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee) recently changed their message to consumers and "allow" more eggs. The Limit of 300 mg alimentary cholesterol per day has been dropped. The German Nutrition Society advises people who have to pay attention to their cholesterol to eat not more than two to three eggs a week. This recommendation is also given because of the relatively high fat content. The “hidden” eggs e.g. in pastries or pasta should also be taken into account. In medical media one can still find the recommendation to eat not more than one egg a week in case of high cholesterol blood levels.

What’s inside the egg?

The cholesterol concentration of an egg is about 180 to 220 mg depending on its size. In addition to about 7 grams of high quality protein an egg contains 6 grams of fat and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and several B vitamins as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine and selenium. Brown and white eggs are equivalent; the color difference is simply due to differences in chicken breeds. Therefore, the egg is basically a highly valuable food with many important nutrients. Where an egg comes from is identifiable with the producer code that is printed on each egg. The first number indicates how the chickens are kept: 0 for ecological, 1 for free range, 2 for floor and 3 for cage breeding. One acronym stands for the country of production, e.g. DE for Germany. The sizes are S, M, L, and XL. The yolk of organic eggs is usually brighter, since there is no feeding of dyes. Organic eggs are not per se healthier, but the housing conditions for the animals are improved.

All in all, eggs are better than their reputation. In this sense, we wish all our readers, patients and staff a Happy Easter. And remember: Unfortunately to chocolate eggs different rules apply.

Doris Gabel, Martin Liborak