Do I really need to limit how many eggs I eat?

For years you have heard that you should only eat two to three eggs a week as they were so high in cholesterol and likely to raise your blood cholesterol. Is it true or false?

Well, recently the USDA checked out the egg and its cholesterol content and lowered the amount from 215 to 185 milligrams. They also increased its Vitamin D content to having 10 percent of your Daily Value. The committee looking at the Dietary Guidelines in their review felt that it was no longer necessary to limit most people to 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily.

These are pluses in the egg’s favor. Although 185 milligrams of cholesterol is over half of what you should have in a day, cholesterol in foods is different than the LDL cholesterol in your blood that increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. However, if your health care provider has told you that you have a high LDL cholesterol level or other cardiovascular disease risk factors you may still want to limit your consumption of eggs. Those with type 2 diabetes should also limit their consumption of eggs. Eggs are powerhouses of nutrition with:

· Seven grams of protein with all the essential amino acids.

· Small amounts of B vitamins but good source of choline needed by brain and nerve function.

· Small amounts of minerals but good source of selenium, carotenioids lutein and zeaxanthin.

· Can have omega-3 fats but you will pay more for the eggs.

The nutrients in eggs are divided between the white and the yolk. The white has more protein and less fat, but the yolk has all the carotenoids, vitamins A, D, E, and K and most of the minerals. Niacin and riboflavin are found in higher amounts in the white. The white is the only part used to make liquid egg substitutes. Thus, they contain fewer calories, not fat or cholesterol.

Purchasing and storing eggs

· Brown and white eggs are nutritionally the same.

· Sizes range from small to jumbo. Most large eggs are about 2 ounces each.

· Buy eggs from stores that keep them refrigerated. Do not buy cracked eggs or discard the cracked eggs and do not use.

· Store eggs, unwashed, in their carton on a shelf in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower.

· Egg cartons usually have an expiration date. It is best to follow the expiration date or use them within three weeks of purchasing them.

· Hard-boiled eggs should be refrigerated and eaten within one week as they spoil more quickly.

· Eggs can contain salmonella from chickens. Always wash your hands before and after handling eggs. Also make sure you wash other utensils, equipment and work surfaces that come into contact with eggs or egg-containing foods with hot, soapy water.

· You should also thoroughly cook eggs and not eat a soft-cooked or “sunny-side-up” egg. Scrambled eggs should not be runny. If you want to eat those types of eggs you should purchase pasteurized eggs. Casseroles containing eggs should be cooked to 160°F.

· Pasteurized eggs are available in some supermarkets. They have a capital “P” in a circle marked on each egg. These eggs have been pasteurized to eliminate bacteria in the egg.

By Pat Brinkman

OSU Extension

Pat Brinkman is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Family & Consumer Sciences. CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clients on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information: