Heart Healthy Living
Eggs

Eggs and Other Questionable Foods

Food can be your “best medicine” or your worst enemy

Eating is one of the great pleasures in life. Food can be your “best medicine” or your worst enemy. It can provide you with the nutrients you need to stay healthy and fit. Or, it can contribute to weight gain and feeling sluggish.

One food that prompts a lot of discussion is eggs. Are they good for you? What is the most you should eat in a week? What about cholesterol?

We all know that eggs contain cholesterol, and it is widely known that too much cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Interestingly, 80 percent of your body’s cholesterol is made by the liver with just 20 percent coming from your diet. And, it turns out, saturated fats and trans fats have a much greater impact on blood cholesterol levels than does dietary cholesterol.

For years, we’ve heard that we should avoid eggs because of cholesterol. More current health guidelines tell us that eggs have some great health benefits. They are a good source of protein, unsaturated fats and many vitamins (The yolks contain vitamins A, D, E, K (fat soluble vitamins), lutein (promotes eye health) and choline (heart health benefits). So go ahead and eat eggs, just do it in moderation. Here are the details. One egg contains about 213 mg of cholesterol, and the recommended daily limit is 300 mg of cholesterol  per day if your total cholesterol is within normal limits, however only 200mg of cholesterol is recommended if your total cholesterol is elevated.

Doctors and nutritionists suggest that it is ok to eat up to three whole eggs a week to take advantage of the health benefits. Katherine Mone, RD, Section of Preventive Cardiology states, “As far as egg whites, they have no cholesterol or saturated fat, but also have less of the vitamins and nutrients that whole eggs contain.  Egg yolks are allowed in a low fat, low cholesterol diet, but It depends on the individual person including their lipid panel and overall diet as to the amount of egg  yolks  one can have during the week.  The best option is to stick to egg whites if you have elevated cholesterol level.”

Eggs can be a delicious breakfast or a great substitute for meat. Just remember, restaurants often put up to six eggs in one omelet. So, share that omelet with a friend, order the one-egg entree, combine one egg with more egg whites,  choose egg whites, or make your eggs at home to manage your intake. You’ll be glad you did.

If you have heart concerns, some other questionable foods to consider include red meat and dairy products. In short, meats and dairy foods have health benefits just as eggs do. The key is that they should be eaten in moderation. Also, eat lean cuts of meat and low-fat dairy products. We’ve all heard the phrase eat a “balanced diet” and that really is what it’s all about.

Tags: breakfast, cleveland clinic, diet, healthy diet, heart health, morning
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  • troptnet

    Yes this is very true line eating is one of the great pleasures in life. Food can be your “best medicine” or your worst enemy.So it is very important to us to know what we eat or what we not?As i know one egg is alright for heart patients.

  • troptnet

    Yes this is very true line eating is one of the great pleasures in life. Food can be your “best medicine” or your worst enemy.So it is very important to us to know what we eat or what we not?As i know one egg is alright for heart patients.

  • Michael Reid

    If you enjoy omelets as much as I do, you might try this. Use three eggs in the omelet but only one yolk. With the tomatoes, onions, peppers etc. the omelet will taste just fine and have significantly less cholesterol.

  • Carl Boldt

    What size egg is used for 3 egg/wk guideline?

    • CC Heart

      Kate Mone RD from our Preventive Cardiology Program states the size is a large egg. betsyRN

  • Suzanne Stanley

    I eat both whites and yokes, to help my old eyes. I count one egg a day as part of my protein in the Cleveland Clinic diet for lowering potassium for those with heart failure. I don’t know if my heart is failing, but have pacemaker for atrialfibrilation, and recently had to have a cardioversion to bring my pulse back down to 60. That scared me. But it’s fixed. A high potassium level is really scary. Following the C. Clinic diet, I brought the potassium back down from 6 to 4. Now I will stay on the general schedule of it. I eat mostly fish, not meat. Rarely a steak, and follow directions – one ounce at a time. So I nibble now and then all day long, and funny thing, I’ve lost over 5 pounds. Not on purpose. Waistline may never come back since my 14 1/2 year ago liver transplant. DCIS successfly gone over 5 years. New Tricuspid Valve. Now kidneys are wavering. Best doctors, grace of God. It’s all so amazing. I’m more grateful than words can say. And I will keep eating an egg, the whole egg, now and then. Ok? Glad for Cleveland Clinic information. Thank you.

    • CC Heart

      I spoke to our Preventive Cardiology dietitians and they both stated that you should see a dietitian due to your complicated medical history – they need more information. However, one of the dietitians noted you should not eat more than 4 egg yolks a week. Hope this helps – let us know if you want an appointment with a Preventive Cardiology dietitian at your next visit (we also have online nutrition consultations). betsyRN

  • Patricia De Leon

    What about egg substitute products? I love eggs, grew up eating them on a daily basis for breakfast, but now, after having heart valve surgery, I eat egg substitute and I don’t miss the regular eggs at all.

    • CC Heart

      Patricia, our Preventive Cardiology dietitians state that there are no worries on egg substitutes, they are cholesterol and saturated fat free. However, sodium can be high in many egg substitute products. They would suggest if someone has high blood pressure they consider this. A person can always use egg whites instead of the whole egg. betsyRN

  • Michael Reid

    If you enjoy omelets as much as I do, you might try this. Use three eggs in the omelet but only one yolk. With the tomatoes, onions, peppers etc. the omelet will taste just fine and have significantly less cholesterol.

  • rose zaborski

    are there more calories in a riper sweeter watermelon and are there as many calories in the melon closest to the rind

    • CC Heart

      Dear Rose – Our dietitians could not find any evidence that there are any differences in the amount of calories in the middle of the watermelon as opposed to what is closer to the rind. They suggest that you approach overall caloric intake more practically and limit overall intake, to say, 1 1/4 cups cubed in a sitting. betsyRN

  • Carl Boldt

    What size egg is used for 3 egg/wk guideline?

    • CC Heart

      Kate Mone RD from our Preventive Cardiology Program states the size is a large egg. betsyRN

  • Suzanne Stanley

    I eat both whites and yokes, to help my old eyes. I count one
    egg a day as part of my protein in the Cleveland Clinic diet for lowering potassium for those with heart failure. I don’t know if my heart is failing, but have pacemaker for atrialfibrilation, and recently had to have a cardioversion to bring my pulse back down to 60. That scared me. But it’s fixed. A high potassium level is really scary. Following the C. Clinic diet, I brought the potassium back down from 6 to 4. Now I will stay on the general schedule of it. I eat mostly fish, not meat. Rarely a steak, and follow directions – one ounce at a time. So I nibble now and then all day long, and funny thing, I’ve lost over 5 pounds. Not on purpose. Waistline may never come back since my 14 1/2 year ago liver transplant. DCIS successfly gone over 5 years. New Tricuspid Valve. Now kidneys are wavering. Best doctors, grace of God. It’s all so amazing. I’m more grateful than words can say. And I will keep eating an egg, the whole egg, now and then. Ok? Glad for Cleveland Clinic information. Thank you.

    • CC Heart

      I spoke to our Preventive Cardiology dietitians and they both stated that you should see a dietitian due to your complicated medical history – they need more information. However, one of the dietitians noted you should not eat more than 4 egg yolks a week. Hope this helps – let us know if you want an appointment with a Preventive Cardiology dietitian at your next visit (we also have online nutrition consultations). betsyRN

  • Patricia De Leon

    What about egg substitute products? I love eggs, grew up eating them on a daily basis for breakfast, but now, after having heart valve surgery, I eat egg substitute and I don’t miss the regular eggs at all.

    • CC Heart

      Patricia, our Preventive Cardiology dietitians state that there are no worries on egg substitutes, they are cholesterol and saturated fat free. However, sodium can be high in many egg substitute products. They would suggest if someone has high blood pressure they consider this. A person can always use egg whites instead of the whole egg. betsyRN

  • rose zaborski

    are there more calories in a riper sweeter watermelon and are there as many calories in the melon closest to the rind

    • CC Heart

      Dear Rose – Our dietitians could not find any evidence that there are any differences in the amount of calories in the middle of the watermelon as opposed to what is closer to the rind. They suggest that you approach overall caloric intake more practically and limit overall intake, to say, 1 1/4 cups cubed in a sitting. betsyRN

  • Doris Nickerson

    My cardiologist recently took me off all salt and also pork and processed luncheon meats. I know you are supposed to limit the red meat in heart-related diets. I do eat an egg once or twice a week to get protein. The last trip to grocery store I bought egg substitutes. Sad to admit, I did not read the label. Thanks to your reading your site today, I checked the label and find there is 5% of DV salt in the substitute eggs – generic store brand. I am getting to the point I don’t know what to eat. For years I used Lowry’s seasoned salt as it was advised by American Heart Association. Now I can’t use that. I have donated all canned goods with salt to the food pantry and found some salt-free vegetables and bought some frozen things. Last week’s “Wellness Checkup” at the doctor’s office I found out I was low on protein and asked if I was eating “much meat”. I eat chicken and buy salmon when I can. I thought pork was the “second white meat” and did eat pork chops and pork loin now and then. Thoughts and advice welcome.

    • CC Heart

      Doris – if you are watching your cholesterol and salt, I would stick to egg whites from actual eggs (separted from the yolk). Frozen vegetables are a great option as compared to canned vegetables for low salt. As close as you can get to the natural food, the better you are when watching sodium. Try fresh garlic or garlic powder, lemon juice, flavored vinegar, salt-free herb blends, parsely, dill, onion, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper, tarragon, oregano and experiment with other herbs. It does take time to read labels, but once you know what you can have, it is much easier. We have a lot of nutrition information on our webste: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/default.aspx . Here are a couple additional resources:
      * American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org
      * The American Heart Association has educational materials: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
      * NHLBI Healthy Eating website: http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/healthyeating/Default.aspx
      Hope this helps. betsyRN

  • Suzanne Toomey

    My ONE egg omelet? Olive oil, onions, broccoli , spinach or mescalin, toss in coarsely chopped walnuts and dried cranberries near end of saute. Beat one egg and pour over the mixture – Egg just holds it together, sort of. Grate some cheddar, let set, fold, place on plate and top with sliced strawberries. A glass of pinot noir or merlot is a great companion.

    • CC Heart

      This sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing! betsyRN

  • http://none Suzanne Toomey

    My ONE egg omelet? Olive oil, onions, broccoli , spinach or mescalin, toss in coarsely chopped walnuts and dried cranberries near end of saute. Beat one egg and pour over the mixture – Egg just holds it together, sort of. Grate some cheddar, let set, fold, place on plate and top with sliced strawberries.
    A glass of pinot noir or merlot is a great companion.

    • CC Heart

      This sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing! betsyRN

  • Doris Nickerson

    My cardiologist recently took me off all salt and also pork and processed luncheon meats. I know you are supposed to limit the red meat in heart-related diets. I do eat an egg once or twice a week to get protein. The last trip to grocery store I bought egg substitutes. Sad to admit, I did not read the label. Thanks to your reading your site today, I checked the label and find there is 5% of DV salt in the substitute eggs – generic store brand. I am getting to the point I don’t know what to eat. For years I used Lowry’s seasoned salt as it was advised by American Heart Association. Now I can’t use that. I have donated all canned goods with salt to the food pantry and found some salt-free vegetables and bought some frozen things. Last week’s “Wellness Checkup” at the doctor’s office I found out I was low on protein and asked if I was eating “much meat”. I eat chicken and buy salmon when I can. I thought pork was the “second white meat” and did eat pork chops and pork loin now and then. Thoughts and advice welcome.

    • CC Heart

      Doris – if you are watching your cholesterol and salt, I would stick to egg whites from actual eggs (separted from the yolk). Frozen vegetables are a great option as compared to canned vegetables for low salt. As close as you can get to the natural food, the better you are when watching sodium. Try fresh garlic or garlic powder, lemon juice, flavored vinegar, salt-free herb blends, parsely, dill, onion, cumin, nutmeg, cinnamon, fresh ground pepper, tarragon, oregano and experiment with other herbs. It does take time to read labels, but once you know what you can have, it is much easier. We have a lot of nutrition information on our webste: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/default.aspx . Here are a couple additional resources:
      * American Dietetic Association: http://www.eatright.org
      * The American Heart Association has educational materials: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/
      * NHLBI Healthy Eating website: http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/healthyeating/Default.aspx
      Hope this helps. betsyRN

  • Joy

    In the above article you talk about limiting eggs but what about all of the eggs consumed that are mixed into food dishes? Doesn’t that impact on the number of eggs allowed? For example, you eat 2 eggs scrambled for breakfast, have apiece of cake with lunch and a casserole for dinner, so this ups your intake but doesn’t count because the eggs in the cake and casserole are perhaps less than one egg?

    • CC Heart

      Dear Joy, spoke with our Preventive Cardiology dietitians and they state: No, these foods containing eggs don’t count. Just limit your eggs to no more than 2-3 egg yolks per week. They added: If you have elevated cholesterol or are concerned about your cholesterol levels, you can also read food labels to limit cholesterol intake that way; and most importantly read labels for saturated fat. Hope this helps. If you have additional questions, an appointment with a registered dietitian to go over your diet and food choices can be very valuable. To make an appointment with a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic , call the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology at€“ 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353. We also have an online Nutrition Consultation program. betsyRN

  • Joy

    In the above article you talk about limiting eggs but what about all of the eggs consumed that are mixed into food dishes? Doesn’t that impact on the number of eggs allowed? For example, you eat 2 eggs scrambled for breakfast, have apiece of cake with lunch and a casserole for dinner, so this ups your intake but doesn’t count because the eggs in the cake and casserole are perhaps less than one egg?

    • CC Heart

      Dear Joy, spoke with our Preventive Cardiology dietitians and they state: No, these foods containing eggs don’t count. Just limit your eggs to no more than 2-3 egg yolks per week. They added: If you have elevated cholesterol or are concerned about your cholesterol levels, you can also read food labels to limit cholesterol intake that way; and most importantly read labels for saturated fat. Hope this helps. If you have additional questions, an appointment with a registered dietitian to go over your diet and food choices can be very valuable. To make an appointment with a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic , call the Cleveland Clinic Preventive Cardiology – 216.444.9353 or 800.223.2273 ext. 9353. We also have an online Nutrition Consultation program. betsyRN

  • http://www.facebook.com/jon.johnson.90 Jon Johnson

    Im confused here, are we trying to kill people by telling them to not eat the one thing that makes our bodies function? Limiting eggs is a bad idea. I eat 3 eggs a day. I eat no grains or processed sugar. I eat grass fed meat organic chicken and other meat sources, vegtables fruit seeds and nuts. Occassional dairy ie: grass fed butter, raw milk cheese. Why does e eryone think cholestorol is a bad thing? Oh wait that cause the government told them that and they can’t think for themself or do research. Do some reseach people and you’ll find that the things they say are bad are really good for us and the medical establishment is just trying to keep us sick to buy there pharmaceutical drugs. That sounds dumb and you might think im coo coo for coco puffs but toull soon find out im not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gypsywoman.rose Angela Rose

    When this study was done on the cholesterol content of the egg….one thing was forgotten…the yolk study was isolated. The composition of the egg white balances the egg yolk when eaten whole. The egg was meant to be eaten as a whole unit!

  • GeorgeBMac

    One item that has not been mentioned (as far as I have seen) by the Cleveland Clinic wellness team is the study by the clinic’s Dr Hazen where he showed that egg yolks and a few other foods promote the generation of TMAO — which he closely linked to heart disease.

    Yes, you can eliminate the yolk — but then you are eliminating most of the nutrients that make them beneficial… So why bother?
    I started including eggs in my diet when it came out that dietary cholesterol has little impact on cardiac health. But I have now mostly eliminated eggs from me diet since learning of this new danger from them.