USDA finds eggs better than cracked up to be
When I spent a few days with my mom last week helping her out after her hip-replacement surgery, there was lots of conversation about what to eat.
Her post-surgery digestive system was sensitive, prone to all kinds of unpleasant irregularities, and we didn't want to set anything off. On the other hand, she needed some nutritious food to help keep her energy up. My first evening there, we happily settled on eggs. They hit the spot and went down easy.
Because my Internet access at Ma's is limited, I hadn't yet seen the e-mail from a public relations representative of the American Egg Board letting me know about the USDA's recent reassessment of eggs' nutritional value. I learned those eggs may be even better for me and Ma than I had thought.
Turns out the USDA routinely reevaluates foods in its vast, searchable database, adjusting the listings for any of dozens of nutrients that may have changed since the agency last checked. Eggs, which hadn't been evaluated since 2002, turn out to have 14 percent less cholesterol and 64 percent more Vitamin D than before. Specifically, a large egg now has 185 mg of cholesterol and 41 IU of Vitamin D. That's down from 212 mg of cholesterol and up from 18 IU of Vitamin D.
Those changes are likely attributable to improved hen-feeding, according to the American Egg Board. But other nutrient values haven't changed: A large egg still delivers 70 calories and 6 grams of protein. And even if you buy the fancy kind in the Styrofoam carton (which you recycle, right?), eggs are really cheap. All in all, they're a pretty solid food choice (unless you are a non-ovo vegetarian or a vegan).
The impact of dietary cholesterol consumption on blood cholesterol levels isn't fully understood. It's not clear that eating an egg now and then will affect your cholesterol one way or another. The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans allow for an average of 300 mg of cholesterol a day.
On the other hand, even a single hard-boiled egg wouldn't meet the standards The Washington Post follows for "healthy" recipes. Those criteria allow a serving of a main-course food to contain no more than 80 mg of cholesterol. A side dish, such as soup or salad, may contain only 40 mg.
That leaves me in a bit of a quandary. Strictly speaking, I can't call eggs "healthy." But I still think they're healthful. And sometimes nothing but a nicely cooked egg will do.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| February 8, 2011; 9:43 AM ET
Categories: Nutrition and Fitness, Vitamins, usda
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