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Eat eggs for your health

CW Staff

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By JoLee Seaborn

Eggs have gotten a bad reputation in the last few years because they have high cholesterol content, which may contribute to heart disease. Many Americans have replaced eggs in their diet with egg substitutes and commercial egg white mixtures like Egg Beaters.

Though dietary cholesterol does contribute to the development of heart disease, eggs shouldn’t be left out of your diet.

Every large egg contains about 212 milligrams of cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends that Americans maintain their cholesterol intake below 300 milligrams each day. If you are at risk for developing coronary artery disease, the AHA recommends that Americans keep their intake below 200 milligrams each day. If you are at risk for developing heart disease and you eat just one egg each day, you have already exceeded your intake.

Cutting cholesterol out of your diet seems like it should lower the cholesterol in your body and help decrease your risk of developing heart disease. It does to a certain extent, but many people aren’t aware that our bodies make cholesterol every day when they cut it out of their diet.

Cholesterol is made in our livers to help us absorb fats from food and to make hormones. A person who has trouble keeping their cholesterol low could completely cut cholesterol out of their diet, but they may still have trouble keeping their cholesterol low because their body continues to make it.

Getting soluble fiber from your diet can help decrease your cholesterol, whether you got it from your diet or your body made it. After cholesterol is made in your liver, it empties into your gut. Soluble fiber attaches to the cholesterol in your gut and prevents it from being absorbed by your body.

Soluble fiber is found in oats, beans and many fruits, so pairing fruits with high cholesterol foods may help to decrease the absorption of cholesterol.

Also, if you only eat the egg white you can still get about 4 grams of complete protein without any of the cholesterol. If you leave out the yolk, you’ll also miss out on the other vitamins and minerals eggs have to offer.

If you are worried about your cholesterol — and most college students aren’t nearly as worried as they should be — pay more attention to your saturated fat intake than your cholesterol intake.

Your body uses saturated fat to carry cholesterol into your blood vessels where it is deposited building plaque. Without the saturated fat, cholesterol won’t be able to travel to your blood vessels as easily. Cutting down on the saturated fat and trans fat in your diet will put a much larger dint in your body’s cholesterol than cutting down on your cholesterol intake. It’s a hard thing to understand, so you’ll just have to trust me on it.

An average large egg has about 6 grams of high quality protein, or complete protein. Many people who are vegetarians won’t eat meat but will eat eggs. Vegetables contain protein, but the protein in vegetables is not complete, which means that they do not have all the components your body needs to build protein.

Vegetarians struggle with meeting their bodies’ protein needs without animal sources. Each vegetable only contains a few of the nine essential amino acids, which your body cannot make but it needs to build proteins. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs to make protein.

Eggs are also a good source of vitamin A, calcium and vitamin C. Think about it: eggs have everything needed to make a baby chicken. That’s pretty cool if you ask me, and it’s great for your body.

Just make sure to pair them with some soluble fiber from fruit, and you’re good to go.

JoLee Seaborn is a senior majoring in nutrition. Her health column runs on Wednesday.

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Eat eggs for your health