I’m an egg addict. Despite the fact that “become a stellar cook” makes it onto my list of New Year’s resolutions year after year, life (and a dinky New York City kitchen) has a way of trumping my best intentions. Enter the egg. Whether in an omelette, on avocado toast, or by itself, eggs feel like a healthy step up from having a bowl of cereal for dinner on a busy day.
But with eggs making their way into multiple meals a week, I have to wonder how healthy it really is to load up on all those yolks.
Luckily, it appears that going through a carton of eggs each week is perfectly normal. Phew. “For the average person, two eggs a day is totally fine,” says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.
But there is one major caveat: “A person needs to look at their total diet to see where they’re getting their saturated fat from,” says Gans. “It’s totally healthy to get two eggs a day, but if you like your eggs scrambled with cheese on them, then you’ve just upped your saturated fat and calories by a lot.”
For me, an egg-based meal typically involves frying two eggs in a little olive oil with salt and pepper and sliding them onto a plate with a handful of mixed greens, a few slices of avocado, and a piece of farmer’s market whole-wheat toast.
But if you want to swap out that side salad and whole-wheat toast for a couple slices of cheese and bacon, you’re going to be getting an overdose of calories and fat. And switching from whole eggs to egg whites may not cut it if you’re trying to compensate.
“There are certain nutrients in the egg yolk that you’re not going to find if you just have egg whites,” says Gans. “All the fat soluble vitamins are found in the yolk, so if you remove that, yes, you are removing the fat, but you also remove a lot of nutritional value.” Not great if you’re going for a quick but healthy meal.
The bottom line, according to Gans, is that the right amount of eggs is totally dependent on the rest of your diet. A single large egg has about 80 calories, five grams of fat, and six grams of protein. So, if you’re already getting plenty of protein and fat from other meals, eating a five-egg cheese omelette for breakfast every day is not a good idea. But if you know you’ll be on the go and don’t know where your next solid source of protein will come from, go ahead and crack an extra egg into the frying pan before you head out the door.
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