Nutrition Q&A: Am I Eating Too Many Eggs?
Eggs are one of the best protein sources—but then there's the whole cholesterol thing. Here, an MF expert gives you the straight-up answer.
Q: “Is there such a thing as too many whole eggs or egg yolks? I know they contain cholesterol, but I’m currently eating six a day while cutting.”
A: Whoa, there! Six eggs a day is far too many, no matter how you cut it. An egg has 187 mg of cholesterol, and the recommended limit is 300 mg per day—or only 200 mg if you have diabetes or risk factors for heart disease. “You can probably get away with one egg a day,” says Maxine Smith, R.D., L.D. a dietician at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. “Though if you’re high risk, limit yourself to two per week.”
Don’t believe it? A 2008 report from the Physicians Health Study backs up Smith’s suggestion, finding that eating one egg per day is generally safe—but that more than that can increase your heart disease risk later in life. (Note that we’re talking about yolks here. You can have unlimited whites.)
The recommendation is still to be conservative, says Smith, because some people have an outsized response to dietary cholesterol. “But we don’t know who those people are,” she explains. And if you are also eating a diet high in saturated fat, the cholesterol in eggs can have a more profound effect on your bad “LDL” cholesterol levels.
Eating the same foods day after day may help you maintain your weight. “It’s about limiting choices,” explains Smith. But it’s better to have variety in your diet, so if you are going to consume an egg every day, have it with salsa, or with spinach and wheat toast.
And if you need to cut back on eggs? Try another type of breakfast that contains a range of foods you can repeat day after day—like oatmeal with mixed berries and milk—and turn to other lean sources of protein, like grilled chicken, fish, black beans, and nut butters.
MF EXPERT: Maxine Smith, R.D., L.D., has more than 20 years of experience as a registered, clinical dietitian and presently works in the department of Nutrition Therapy at Cleveland Clinic. Her areas of special interest include weight, lipid, and diabetes management, and disease prevention.