Mass General nutrition specialist cracks open the facts about eggs.

Eggs are symbolically linked to springtime given their figurative association with renewal and connection to seasonal holidays like Easter and Passover.

Eggs are also an often forgotten protein source—likely due to past correlations with high cholesterol and frequent relegation to breakfast. Yet for most adults, eggs can be included in a variety of meals without cause for concern.

For healthy individuals, having an egg per day does not seem to increase risk of heart disease.

Though high in dietary cholesterol, we now know the kind of cholesterol in eggs does not affect the type in our bodies as much as we once thought. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines—set to be released later this year—plan to remove the focus on cholesterol in food altogether.

Eggs are also nutrient-packed. For only 80 calories, an extra-large egg contains as much protein as a slice of cheese and is an excellent source of vitamin B12, necessary for energy metabolism. Aside from fatty fish, it is also one of the only naturally occurring dietary sources of vitamin D, a nutrient recently linked to reducing the risk of diseases ranging from osteoporosis to cancer.

Don’t Ditch the Yolk

Due to associations with excess fat and cholesterol, yolks are often discarded, but the yellow center of an egg is an important source of nutrients. The yolk contains the majority of the vitamin D and B12 commonly found in eggs. It is also low in saturated fat—the type thought to increase the bad cholesterol associated with cardiac complications. For healthy individuals, having an egg per day does not seem to increase risk of heart disease.

This is particularly good news when it comes to dinner. Eggs are cheap, cook quickly and are already a mainstay in many homes. As such, they are an easy way to add protein to a meal. They can be made into a vegetable-filled crustless quiche or frittata or even added to a pasta dish. They also take kindly to spring vegetables like asparagus and peas.

Thus, eggs are both a staple and seasonally appropriate. Which means—aside from their association with Easter egg hunts—they may also help renew dinner this time of year too.

Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN
Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN

Emily Gelsomin, MLA, RD, LDN, is a senior clinical nutrition specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital. As a registered dietitian, she counsels on medical nutrition therapy on an outpatient basis and works extensively with Be Fit, the hospital’s employee wellness program.

Jointly sponsored by The Clubs at Charles River Park and MGH Nutrition and Food Services, the 10-week program focuses on helping participants “Be Fit and Eat Right.” Every ten weeks, employees from different departments within the hospital compete with each other as they make a commitment to Be Fit. Through the creation of a social environment at the workplace, participants are supported to make progress in personal lifestyle changes with the help of a unique support system that includes a dedicated nutritionist and personal trainer.

Be Fit strives to create a milieu of wellness that extends beyond the 10-week curriculum by offering features to those who are not part of the intensive program. This includes the creation of Choose Well, Eat Well, a rating system designed to help both employees and patients increase awareness of healthy choices at retail eateries within the hospital. It also includes a monthly e-mail with a timely nutrition tip.