Breakfast is one meal you shouldn’t skip. But a lot of us aren’t sure whether we should eat eggs because of their saturated fat and cholesterol content.
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A red flag is there only for people with heart disease risk factors, says preventive cardiology dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, LD.
How many eggs per week?
“There is no current recommendation on how many eggs you should consume each week,” says Zumpano. “Research indicates that total saturated fat contributes more to LDL (bad) cholesterol than dietary cholesterol.”
She points out that egg whites are safe and a good source of protein. It is egg yolks that have the cholesterol and saturated fat you’re trying to avoid.
“If you have heart disease or high cholesterol, be cautious about the number of egg yolks you consume, and take into account all the other forms of saturated fat (red meat, beef, pork, veal and lamb, poultry skin, whole-milk dairy or full-fat cheese) in your diet,” says Zumpano. “Setting a limit of four egg yolks per week is recommended.”
“To lower your LDL cholesterol, no more than 5 to 6% of your calories should come from saturated fat, according to the 2013 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology guidelines.”
Consider cooking methods
When you prepare eggs, you should also pay attention to the way you cook them, says Zumpano. “If you fry them, the oil that you add is only going to contribute to your saturated fat for the day,” she says. She says these drier or oil-free cooking methods are preferred:
- Pan-frying with a cooking spray.
Zumpano adds that you should avoid putting salt on your eggs to keep the amount of sodium in your diet at the recommended level. One teaspoon of salt is all you need per day.