Q: So what are the facts on eggs — are they as bad as they’re portrayed?
A: Eggs are high in cholesterol, and a diet high in cholesterol can contribute to high blood cholesterol levels. However, it varies from person to person on how much the cholesterol in the foods that are consumed increases an individual’s blood cholesterol. And, recent literature suggests that our intake of saturated fats and trans fats have a greater impact on blood cholesterol levels than from the cholesterol we get in foods (dietary cholesterol).
Regardless, the recommended daily limits on cholesterol in your food are as follows:
• If you are healthy, it's recommended that you limit your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams a day.
• If you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or a high low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) blood cholesterol level, you should limit your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg a day.
• One large egg contains about 213 milligrams of dietary cholesterol, all of which is found in the yolk. Therefore, an egg can fit within heart-healthy guidelines if cholesterol is limited from other animal sources, such as meats, poultry and dairy products, during the rest of the day (dietary cholesterol is found only in animal products — if it doesn’t have a liver, it doesn’t have cholesterol).
So, let’s look at this scenario. If you eat one egg for breakfast, drink two cups of coffee with one tablespoon of half-and-half each, eat 4 ounces of lean turkey breast without skin and one tablespoon of mayonnaise in a sandwich for lunch, and have a 6-ounce serving of broiled, short loin porterhouse steak for dinner, it would account for about 510 milligrams of dietary cholesterol that day, nearly twice the recommended limit.
And remember that many other foods, especially baked goods, are prepared with eggs, and those eggs count toward your daily cholesterol limit.
If you like eggs but don't want the extra cholesterol, use only the egg whites. Egg whites contain no cholesterol. You may also use cholesterol-free egg substitutes, which are made with egg whites. If you want to reduce cholesterol in a recipe that calls for eggs, use two egg whites or 1/4 cup cholesterol-free egg substitute in place of one whole egg.
On the positive side, eggs are a naturally nutrient-dense food, which means they have a high proportion of nutrients to calories. One large egg has 70 calories and provides 13 essential nutrients in varying amounts. Eggs are an excellent source of choline and a good source of protein and riboflavin. Many of the egg’s nutrients are found in the egg yolk, including choline, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin D.
Q: After I hard-cook eggs, I sometimes get them mixed up with the raw eggs in my refrigerator. Is there any way to tell them apart?
A: To tell whether an egg is raw or hard-cooked, spin it. Because the liquids have set into a solid, a hard-cooked egg will easily spin. The moving liquids in a raw egg will cause it to wobble.
For a ton of information on eggs (and egg decorating), go to the www.incredibleegg.org. If you really want to have some fun with your kids, create your own virtual decorated eggs by going to www.incredibleeggdesigner2.com — only after you’ve decorated your “real” Easter eggs. Those special days of egg decorating and hunting are priceless. Take the time to build memories together as a family!
Here’s one fun recipe that you can also make with the kids help:
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper in medium bowl until blended. Add cheese, zucchini, pepper and onion. Mix well. Spoon evenly into 12 greased muffin cups, about 1/4 cup each.
Bake for approximately 20 to 22 minutes, just until set. Cool on rack 5 minutes. Remove from cups. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition facts per serving: 163 calories, 12 grams total fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 1 gram polyunsaturated fat, 4 grams monounsaturated fat, 233 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 12 grams protein, 294 milligrams sodium.
— Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.