'Egg-cellent' nutrition

What would Easter be without brightly decorated eggs?  And when Easter is over, like turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving, you can be sure there will be lots of eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It helps that eggs are one of the most versatile of foods. But how do they rate nutrition-wise?

Many people unnecessarily refrain from eating eggs thinking they are bad for the heart.  However, a study done by the Physicians Health Study I, found no correlation between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease for those that do not have high cholesterol or diabetes.

To put this in perspective, a healthy person should limit his or her intake of dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day, while someone with high cholesterol, diabetes or heart disease should limit their cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg per day.  It’s true that eggs are high in cholesterol – about 186 mg of cholesterol per egg, all of which is found in the egg yolk.

However, if you watch your intake of cholesterol from other food sources such as meats and cheeses, you can feel free to eat about four egg yolks in a week.

Good things to know about eggs:

Eggs are nutritious: One egg has about 80 calories and is chockfull of vitamins, protein and antioxidants. Egg yolks are a great source of vitamin A, which promotes healthy cell growth and skin, The yolk of the eggs also promote eye health because it contains the two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants that have been shown to decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration and cataracts.  Eggs also contain B vitamins, riboflavin, folate and vitamin E.

Eat egg whites for weight loss and managing high cholesterol: Eat just the egg white and you eliminate all the cholesterol and fat, while still getting all the protein. Egg white is low in calories, too – just 15 calories per egg. It’s easy to make a healthy and filling meal with eggs.  To make an omelet or for a sunny side up egg, crack one egg in a skillet and then pour two to three egg whites around the whole egg, creating a huge sunny side up egg.  Another easy option, and great for use in recipes: pick up a carton of cholesterol-free egg substitute at your local supermarket.

Easter egg safety tips: Hardboiled eggs can last up to one week in the refrigerator. Just like other meats, cheeses and perishables foods; do not leave eggs out unrefrigerated for more than two hours. When decorating Easter Eggs, use food grade dyes, commercial egg dyes, fruit-drink powders or liquid food coloring.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a nationally known registered dietitian based in New York and the creator of a proprietary high-fiber nutrition program for weight loss, wellness and for treating various medical conditions. Tanya authored the bestselling weight loss book The F-Factor Diet, and she is the first dietitian with a national line of high-fiber foods, which are sold under the F-Factor name. Become a fan of Tanya on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website Ffactor.com.