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You Can Safely Eat a Lot More Eggs Than You Might Think

You Can Safely Eat a Lot More Eggs Than You Might Think

It turns out they're not nearly as bad for your heart as people once thought.

In the past, eggs had a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol—but a pair of studies published this month find that health fears surrounding these protein powerhouses may be misguided.

The first study, published in the medical journal Heart by a team of researchers at Peking University Health Science Center in China, illustrates the link between eating eggs daily and the risk of heart disease. Looking at more than 415,000 participants who were free of any chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, researchers studied their diet and lifestyle for almost nine years—13 percent of these individuals enjoyed a serving or more of eggs every day, while 9 percent reported rarely consuming eggs.

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The study concluded that those who enjoyed eggs daily had lower risks of heart disease overall—up to 26 percent less of a risk of hemorrhagic stroke (as well as 28 percent less at risk from dying from this kind of stroke) and 18 percent lower risk of facing lethal complications from forms of cardiovascular disease.

Another compelling case, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, builds on evidence presented by the initial study. It shows that even for those suffering from type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, eggs did not influence risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Conducted by teams of researchers at the University of Sydney Medical School and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia, the study lasted for three months. Participants were asked to maintain their weight with a high-egg diet—more than 12 eggs each week. Another group maintained their weight with a diet of less than two eggs per week. After the three month period, researchers found no difference in the two groups' cholesterol levels, or risk of developing serious cardiovascular disease.

Just to be sure their findings weren't coincidental, the same group of people were asked to diet and lose weight for an additional three months, while consuming the same amounts of eggs they had been doing so earlier. Over the next year, researchers kept up with the individuals as they tried to lose weight with various amounts of eggs scattered into their diet.

Getty: Kriengkrai Kontasorn

And at the end of the observation, both of the groups had failed to develop any increased risk for heart-clogging diseases, despite previous research pointing to cholesterol and saturated fats as pitfall for the breakfast staple. The doctors involved checked for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and found no significant difference between the two groups of egg eaters.

What's more? The presence of 12 eggs a week in a diet didn't lead to weight gain, the research says.

"Eggs are a source of protein and micronutrients that could support a range of health and dietary factors," Dr. Nick Fuller, the study's lead author, told ScienceDaily. "Including helping to regulate the intake of fat and carbohydrate, eye and heart health, healthy blood vessels and healthy pregnancies."

The bottom line: These recent studies support how we've viewed eggs for a while here at Cooking Light: As an essential part of a wholesome, well-balanced diet. Over the last year, in particular, we've watched as a few sources reignited the debate of whether or not eggs are harmful for you—including one viral documentary that claimed eating one egg is as harmful as smoking five cigarettes. While a breakfast containing an egg can still be unhealthy depending on how you cook it and what you eat it with, there's simply no truth to claims that enjoying healthy egg dishes will harm health.

I Ate 3 Eggs Every Day for a Week &mdash Here&rsquos What I Learned

This simple morning switch can make a big difference in how you feel.

I&rsquove always liked eggs &mdash they&rsquore filling and delicious, but for some reason, I just can&rsquot be bothered to make them on the weekdays because I&rsquom too damn busy. At least that&rsquos what I tell myself as I run out the door for work every morning juggling multiple bags and swiping an apple or banana out of the fruit bowl for breakfast.

The problem: When I do this, I am freakin&rsquo ravenous and totally distracted long before it&rsquos lunch time, which sets a bad tone for the rest of the day. So I decided it was time for a change, and that change would be eating some damn eggs. Specifically, three eggs every morning for a week.

Why eggs? They&rsquore the perfect little package. Not only are they protein-rich (about 7 grams each), but eggs &mdash specifically the yolks &mdash contain inflammation-fighting omega-3s vitamins D, E, and B12 and minerals like selenium. Plus, just two eggs a day fulfills half of your daily needs for the memory-boosting nutrient choline, which, per recent studies most Americans severely lack.

And for the low cost of even local organic eggs &mdash $5 or less for a dozen &mdash there was no excuse not to make the switch. Here's what I learned when I did.

Are eggs risky for heart health?

A. From what we know today, here's the bottom line: for most people, an egg a day does not increase your risk of a heart attack, a stroke, or any other type of cardiovascular disease. No more than three eggs per week is wise if you have diabetes, are at high risk for heart disease from other causes (such as smoking), or already have heart disease.

This is definitely not what I was told by my parents, nor by my medical school professors. Back then, we knew that the cholesterol in eggs came from the egg yolks, and we knew that high levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood increased the risk of cardiovascular disease. So it seemed logical that avoiding cholesterol in the diet made sense.

Since then, however, research has shown that most of the cholesterol in our body is made by our liver-it doesn't come from cholesterol we eat. The liver is stimulated to make cholesterol primarily by saturated fat and trans fat in our diet, not dietary cholesterol. But a large egg contains little saturated fat-about 1.5 grams (g). And research has confirmed that eggs also contain many healthy nutrients: lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for the eyes choline, which is good for the brain and nerves and various vitamins (A, B, and D). In fact, just one large egg contains 270 international units (IU) of vitamin A and 41 IU of vitamin D. One large egg also contains about 6 g of protein and 72 calories.

The evidence that cholesterol in one egg a day is safe for most people comes from huge studies-many conducted here at Harvard Medical School-that have followed hundreds of thousands of people over decades. They regularly report what they eat and all of the medical conditions that they develop. It is those studies that do not find higher rates of heart attacks, strokes, or other cardiovascular diseases in people who eat up to one egg per day.

Of course, it matters greatly what you eat with your eggs. The saturated fat in butter, cheese, bacon, sausage, muffins, or scones, for example, raises your blood cholesterol much more than the cholesterol in your egg. And the highly refined "bad carbs" in white toast, pastries, home fries, and hash browns may also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Do I eat eggs regularly? I didn't in the past, but the new knowledge has changed my practice. I typically have a couple of eggs two or three times per week, so it averages out to less than one per day. Often, the eggs are mixed with fresh vegetables, herbs and spices, green chili, or salsa. There's whole-grain toast, with soft margarine (low in saturated fats and trans fats). It's delicious, and the best current evidence says it's healthy.

Image: Olha_Afanasieva/Thinkstock

Can you eat too many eggs?

If you’re confused about whether eggs are healthy, it’s not your fault—there’s been plenty of flip-flopping from the scientific community. First, cholesterol-heavy eggs were practically a forbidden food. We dumped the yolks in favor of scrambled whites, brunched on egg white omelettes , and ditched eggs Benedict altogether. Then, suddenly, the tide turned and eggs were happily back on the menu. They’re even a ZeroPoint™ food on myWW+ Blue and Purple. More recently, though, stories in the media reopened the debate about dietary cholesterol, eggs, and our health. Want clarity? Read on.

One study vs. many

Recently, news outlets reported on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) . The results: Researchers found that increases in egg intake were associated with a slightly higher risk of heart disease. But that was one study. “As a science-based organization, we look at the totality of the science,” says WW’s chief science officer, Gary Foster, PhD. “We don’t get influenced by just one study on a topic. Every study has limitations and this one is no different. It is based on one survey that asked people what they ate and tried to relate that survey to outcomes up to 30 years later.”

In other words, it’s smart to weigh those findings against the wealth of science showing that dietary cholesterol doesn’t significantly increase blood cholesterol.

So, you’re probably wondering, what does boost the level of cholesterol in your blood, raising your risk of heart disease? Health experts agree that saturated fat is the major culprit. “This is why our SmartPoints system takes saturated fats into account to guide members towards a healthier pattern of eating,” Foster says. “Foods higher in saturated fat are higher in SmartPoints. It is also why the most recent dietary guidelines for Americans had no limit on dietary cholesterol but did recommend limiting saturated fat.” In other words, you can continue to enjoy foods that contain dietary cholesterol—including eggs.

The incredible egg

In many ways eggs are a natural health food. Just one large egg contains 6 grams of protein for approximately 70 calories. And not just any kind of protein. Eggs serve up the highest quality protein available, which our bodies use more efficiently than the type in foods like beef or beans. Eggs are also one of nature’s top sources of choline, a nutrient that keeps our cells healthy and our brains sharp. Plus, they supply small amounts of other important nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin D, and vision-friendly zeaxanthin and lutein. And thanks to advances in agriculture, eggs now have 64 percent more vitamin D than they did 15 years ago. Think eggs are filled with fat? A large egg only contains only 5 grams worth, of which a gram and a half is saturated.

Is an egg a day too much?

To answer that question, look at what else is on your plate. Cholesterol and saturated fat tend to travel together. So, if you’re already eating lots of meat and cheese, a three-egg omelette will only add more of both. But if you’re not consuming lots of saturated fat-filled foods, an egg a day is a good protein source for most healthy people to incorporate into their diets. “Members should be reassured, they can and should continue to enjoy eggs,” Foster says.

There is one egg-eating exception to keep in mind, however. “If someone has high ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol they may be more responsive to cholesterol in their diets,” says Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc , director and senior scientist of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at Tufts University. “In that case it would be reasonable to limit intake.” If your LDL cholesterol numbers are high, talk with your doctor about the best dietary choices for you.

Raw Eggs vs. Cooked Eggs

Cooked eggs are generally considered to be the best way to eat eggs, as the heat from the cooking process helps eliminate disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella. However, the heat from the cooking process also influences the nutritional value of your eggs. This means that raw eggs and cooked eggs can have very different nutrient content. Cooking methods also contribute to the number of negative byproducts, like glycotoxins, in your food.

Scrambled, fried and boiled are the most popular ways to eat eggs in the United States. While these cooking methods are certainly easy and tasty, high heat can be destructive to the nutrients in your eggs and influence their digestibility. Eggs cooked for long periods of time or on high heat also have the most glycotoxins. Glycotoxins are associated with diabetes and other types of chronic illness.

In general, cooking eggs at low to medium heat will preserve most of their nutritional content but also eliminate disease-causing bacteria. Eating raw eggs is the best way to avoid glycotoxins. However, because using low to medium heat when cooking causes few glycotoxins to form, eggs cooked like this could be considered equivalent to raw eggs.

How Long Can You Store Hard-Boiled Eggs in the Fridge?

If you have extra hard-cooked eggs leftover from a batch of deviled eggs or egg salad, you don&apost have to eat them on the spot a la Cool Hand Luke or feed them to the dog. You can store them in the refrigerator𠅊nd maybe even a bit longer than you might think.

How to Safely Store Hard-Boiled Eggs

According to the Food and Drug Administration, you can keep hard-cooked eggs in the refrigerator for up to seven days after they have been cooked. (Here&aposs the best way to make them.) And it doesn&apost matter whether the eggs are already peeled or still in the shell. Either way, they will last for a week. The best way to store peeled eggs is in a ziplock plastic bag or airtight container. Unpeeled hard-cooked eggs can be stored, uncovered, in a bowl or in an airtight container.

Our Favorite Ways to Use Hard-Boiled Eggs

There are many delicious ways to use hard-boiled eggs in recipes. Chop them up and add them to salads and sandwiches (they taste great in tuna salad). Grate them with a box grater over a pile of steamed asparagus or Caesar salad. Or pickle them!

What About Easter Eggs?

There is one big exception that you should know about—the seven-day rule does not apply to Easter eggs if the eggs have been outside for more than two hours—or less if it&aposs a hot day. You should never eat cooked eggs that have been left outside of a refrigerator for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is 90⶯ or higher. As the old saying goes: When in doubt, toss it out.

If you plan on eating Easter eggs, hide them indoors shortly before the egg hunt, then refrigerate them soon after. Or make a separate batch of hard-cooked eggs just for eating—you&aposll have plenty of time to enjoy them!

Sell Date Of Eggs – How Fresh Are Your Eggs?

The freshness of an egg is not only determined by the date when the egg was laid, but also by the way the egg has been stored. Proper handling and storage is perhaps the most important factor in determining freshness.

If a freshly laid egg is left at room temperature for a full day, it will not be as fresh as a week old egg that has been refrigerated between 33 degrees F. and 40 degrees F. from the time it was laid.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA):

Many eggs reach stores only a few days after the hen lays them. Egg cartons with the USDA grade shield on them, indicating they came from a USDA-inspected plant, must display the ‘pack date’ (the day that the eggs were washed, graded, and placed in the carton). The number is a three-digit code that represents the consecutive day of the year (the ‘Julian Date’) starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365.

Sell By Date:
Though not required, most egg cartons also contain a “sell by” date beyond which they should not be sold. In USDA-inspected plants (indicated by the USDA shield on the package), this date can’t exceed 30 days beyond the pack date which is within USDA regulations. Always purchase eggs before their “sell by” date. Information from the Georgia Egg Commission:

Julian Date: Starting with January 1 as number 1 and ending with December 31 as 365, these numbers represent the consecutive days of the year. This numbering system is sometimes used on egg cartons to denote the day the eggs are packed. Fresh shell eggs can be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 weeks beyond this date with insignificant quality loss.

Expiration Date:
The “sell by” or “best if used by” or “exp (date)” are all expressions used by the industry in various states, and are used by the retailer to assure you of freshness. The egg will continue to be fresh for at least another 2-3 weeks if it has been refrigerated from the time packed until used at 45 degrees F. or lower. As the egg ages, it does lose some of its qualities, so if you were baking a cake or whipping meringue, your cake might not rise as high as expected, and you might not get the volume of meringue you would expect, so for baking purposes it is better to use a fresher egg.

How long are eggs good after the sell date?

Refrigerated raw shell eggs will keep without significant quality loss for about 4 to 5 weeks beyond the sell date or about 3 weeks after you bring them home. A general rule to follow is that any egg that looks or smells odd should NOT be used. Just crack each egg in a small bowl, smell it – your nose will tell you!

How to test if an egg is fresh:

First Method:

Fill a deep bowl with water and carefully lower the egg into the water. A very fresh egg will immediately sink to the bottom and lie flat on its side. This is because the air cell within the egg is very small. The egg should also fee quite heavy.

As the egg starts to lose it freshness and more air enters the egg, it will begin to float and stand upright. The smaller end will lie on the bottom of the bowl, while the broader end will point towards the surface. The egg will still be good enough to consume.

However, if the egg fully floats in the water and does not touch the bottom of the bowl at all, it should be discarded, as it will most likely be bad.

Second Method:

Test the eggs freshness by breaking the egg onto a flat plate, not into a bowl. The yolk of a very fresh egg will have a round and compact appearance and it will sit positioned quite high up in the middle of the egg. The white that surrounds it will be thick and stays close to the yolk.

A less fresh egg will contain a flatter yolk and a thinner white that spreads quite far over the plate.

How to store eggs?

The USDA recommends storing eggs in a refrigerator at about 40 degrees F, mainly to reduce the chances that any bacteria on the shell will multiply and cause a risk of illness.

Buy refrigerated eggs and store them in the refrigerator as soon as your get home. However, even under refrigeration, eggs slowly lose carbon dioxide, which enlarges the size of the air cell and causes the yolk to flatten and the white to spread.

Storing Fresh Egg – Refrigerated raw shell eggs will keep without significant quality loss for about 4 to 5 weeks beyond the “sell by” date or about 3 weeks after you bring them home.

Fresh egg whites – 2 to 4 days

Fresh egg yolks (unbroken and covered with water) – 2 to 4 days

Hard-cooked (hard boiled) eggs – 1 week

Deviled eggs – 2 to 3 days

Leftover egg dishes – 3 to 4 days

Whole eggs (in the shell) cannot be frozen as the eggs will burst. Store in an airtight freezer container. The recommended length of freezer storage for frozen eggs is 9 to 12 months.

Whole eggs – You can freeze an entire egg by beating it (as if you were making scrambled eggs) and then storing it in an airtight freezer container.

Egg yolks – Separate eggs. Stir yolks with a fork to break them. Add two teaspoons sugar or one teaspoon salt for each cup of egg yolks. Store in an airtight freezer container.

Egg whites – Strain whites through a sieve. Freeze without stirring. Do not add sugar or salt. Store in an airtight freezer container.

Additional Egg Cooking Techniques:

Learn All About Eggs and How To Cook Them – Lots of interesting information regarding eggs.

Baked (Shirred) Eggs
In France, this basic methods of baked eggs is called oeufs en cocotte. People love this dish. Baked eggs are both comforting and sophisticated. The eggs come out looking beautiful in their individual ramekins and are easy to serve.

Boiling Eggs
How To Correctly Cook Hard-Cooked (Hard-Boiled) Eggs. According to the American Egg Board, the terms “hard-boiled” and “soft-boiled” eggs are really misnomers, because boiling eggs makes them tough and rubbery. Instead, these eggs should be “hard-” or “soft-cooked” in hot (still) water.

Coddled Eggs
Coddled eggs are made by very briefly immersing an egg in the shell in boiling water (to cook in water just below the boiling point) to slightly cook or coddle them.

Deviled Eggs
Deviled eggs have their roots in ancient Roman recipes. In the 17th century, this was a common way to prepare eggs. They were not called “deviled” until the 18th Century, in England.

Fried Eggs – Perfect Fried Egg
Here are the absolute best fried eggs. This method is adapted from the ultra-meticulous French chef Fernand Point (1897-1955). This technique makes one spectacular fried egg and demonstrates that simplicity and purity often yield the best dishes of all.

Microwave Eggs
How to microwave poached eggs, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, and boiled eggs.

Poached Eggs
The best eggs for poaching are the freshest eggs you can find. If eggs are more than a week old, the whites thin out. Whites of fresh eggs will gather compactly around the yolk, making a rounder, neater shape.

Scrambled Eggs/Omelets
Scrambled eggs make a delicious and quick meal, but there is a little science to getting them just right. The secret to successfully scrambling eggs is slow cooking.

5 Human Foods Cats Can Eat

It can be hard to resist spoiling your beautiful feline friend with a special treat from the dinner table. But as wise cat owners know, many human foods can be unsafe for your cat because we have vastly different nutritional needs from them. Even some kinds of food your cat loves and begs for might wreak havoc on your lovable furball's digestive system.

We spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), who said that the list of foods you can never feed your cat is a lot smaller than most people think. Cats should never have onion, garlic, kelp, grapes or raisins, sugary treats, chocolate, and alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, even in small doses.

However, you'll find many veterinary lists of dangerous foods are longer. The truth is, if you examine the fine print, some foods on these warning lists can be safe for your cat -- but only in small doses. And a good rule of thumb is that human food should not make up more than 15 percent of a cat's diet.

How to Make Pickled Quail Eggs

Once they’re hard-boiled and peeled, making pickled quail eggs isn’t really any different than any type of pickled egg. While the process isn’t any different, the result sure is. Since there’s more surface area to volume, the flavors infuse better and the final flavor is out of this world.

When pickling quail eggs, the seasonings are completely up to you. Start with a basic brine made with 1 cup of vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring it to a boil on the stove so the salt dissolves. White vinegar is the most neutral, but any type will work. Apple cider vinegar gives the pickled quail eggs a bit of a rustic flavor, while balsamic adds sweeter, warmer notes and a lot of color.

For milder pickled eggs, with less tart vinegary flavor, substitute 1/3 of the vinegar for another liquid such as a dry white wine. Or beet juice for beautiful color and a lot of flavor. Or really, any other liquid that suits your fancy.

For seasonings, I prefer a warmly spiced pickled egg, with garlic, cloves, allspice, mustard seeds, and pepper. Keep in mind the seasonings are completely up to you, and alterations will make a dramatically different egg.