Eggs — it’s the way you cook them

Mention cholesterol and the first food that springs to mind is eggs. Eggs are a much criticised food; however it seems like this criticism was misplaced as it is saturated fat that is the greatest culprit in raising blood cholesterol. The confusion occurred as eggs do contain dietary cholesterol, but this seems to have little or no effect on blood cholesterol.

Far from being a dietary no-no, eggs are a versatile, nutritious, and cheap food. An average egg contains approximately 80 calories, it is a good source of protein and vitamins A, B, D, and E; it will also provide you with 100 per cent of your daily selenium requirements, as well as containing iron and zinc. Although it does contain fat, about two thirds of this fat is healthy unsaturated fat.

Interestingly, eggs contain lutein, a substance which is used in the body to protect the rods and cones at the back of your eye. Consuming lutein can lower your risk of age-related macular degeneration, and has also been linked to a reduced risk of cataracts.

So what are the current recommendations? The Department of Health and Children have advised that people can eat up to seven eggs per week, whereas the Irish Heart Foundation recommend that people with high cholesterol can eat from four to six eggs per week.

A word of warning: if you are having your egg fried with a ‘side order’ of sausages, rashers, and black and white pudding, don’t be too surprised if your cholesterol is raised. The blame in that case falls with the fatty meats rather than the egg.

For the boiled, scrambled, or poached variety — as the slogan goes, an egg a day is OK. For some egg tips and recipes, see www.bordbia.ie

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