The Egg Bounces Back

Whether you eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, eggs are an excellent choice.

The two-word reason: "nutrient dense." That means you get a lot of good stuff -- protein, vitamins, minerals -- in a few calories. Eggs are a great protein source.

An omelet is a better choice than pancakes, but make it with two eggs, not five, and pile on veggies to fill the plate.

One large egg has about 5 grams of fat, but more of the fat is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (2.6 grams) than unhealthy saturated (1.6 grams). The yolk has all the fat, which is why some dieters stick to egg-white omelets. But the yolk also has a lot of the vitamins and minerals.

The egg's prime benefit is its protein -- a little more than 6 grams for one large egg, with 72 calories. The egg white alone offers 4 grams of protein with 16 calories. Other nutrients found in eggs include calcium, folate, phosphorus, sodium and vitamins A and D.

Eggs also contain cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) says an egg a day is fine for most people, as long as you keep track of the cholesterol and saturated fats in your other foods, too. You shouldn't eat more than one egg yolk a day if you have a history of high cholesterol or cardiovascular disease, but heed your doctor's advice.

Keep these cholesterol facts from the AHA when considering eggs:

  • One large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is more than 70 percent of the 300 mg daily recommended intake for healthy adults. If you have heart disease, diabetes or high cholesterol, your daily cholesterol limit should be less than 200 mg.

  • Extra large and jumbo eggs contain more cholesterol than large eggs.

  • Use egg whites instead of whole eggs when cooking. Use two egg whites or one white and 2 teaspoons of unsaturated oil in place of one whole egg in recipes. Egg substitutes are also a good alternative.

How you cook the egg and what you put on it matters, too. Watch out for salt and for added saturated fats (from sauces and baked goods, for instance).

Combining eggs with vegetables can make a satisfying dinner. Leave out the meat and cheese to eliminate added cholesterol and saturated fat. (Keep your saturated fat intake below 10 percent of your total calories, and your total fat intake between 20 and 35 percent of total calories.)

About the only thing you don't get in an egg is vitamin C. So add some citrus fruit or a small glass of orange juice with your breakfast egg or a little lemon juice in your deviled egg recipe.

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