For many Norwegians Easter is all about long skiing trips in the mountains and spending the nights in the cabin in front of a crackling fireplace. However, it is estimated that only 3-5% of Norwegians actually spend Easter in a mountain cabin, while 85% spend Easter at home. Regardless of where Easter is spent, very many Norwegians start each Easter morning with an Easter egg. I’m not talking about the chocolate-filled eggs left by the Easter Bunny, but the white and yellow ones you would eat for breakfast. The amount of eggs consumed in Norway is doubled during Easter, which gives a consumption equivalent to one egg per person per day during the Easter. Is it healthy to eat that many eggs?
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An egg weighs about 50 grams with the shell removed. Of this, 75% is water, 11% fat, 13% protein and 1% carbohydrate in addition to a variety of vitamins and minerals. Half of the energy of an egg comes from the fat which is almost exclusively found in the egg yolk. The percentage of saturated fat is relatively low at only 27%, but the egg has a relatively large amount of cholesterol. It is this cholesterol that has given the egg yolk a bad reputation. Previously it was believed that dietary cholesterol was one of the main causes of high blood cholesterol and the American Heart Association recommended a maximum of 3 egg yolks per week.
However, in the recent years several large studies have been published that have looked at the relationship between the consumption of eggs and the occurrence of heart disease. A summary of this literature showed that consumption of up to one egg per day was not associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular disease (1). Today, saturated fats and trans fats are considered far more important causes of disease than dietary cholesterol. Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day, but this was not brought forward in the recently published 2015 report, stating that “available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum (blood) cholesterol” and that “Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption” (2).
The conclusion is thus that eggs for breakfast is far healthier than previously thought and that eggs can be enjoyed for breakfast both during Easter and throughout the rest of the year.
I wish you an eggy Easter!
Erlend Hassel, PhD candidate at CERG
- Rong Y et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. 2013 Jan 7;346:e8539.
- Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Available from: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf