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 associations with high cholesterol and their frequent relegation to breakfast. Yet, eggs can typically be included in a variety of meals without cause for concern.
The Truth About Eggs
In recent years, research has offered conflicting guidelines on the association between eggs and heart disease. For most of us, moderate egg consumption (up to one egg a day) is perfectly fine.
An extra-large egg contains as much protein as a slice of cheese and is an excellent source of vitamin B12, necessary for proper brain function.
Some studies show a slight increase in cardiovascular risk, particularly for people who also eat more saturated fat, which is found in red meat, fast food, and snacks. But maligning eggs is missing the point. For these individuals, targeting less nutritious options like high fat deli meats, burgers, and desserts is much more meaningful.
Eggs are nutrient-packed. An extra-large egg contains as much protein as a slice of cheese and is an excellent source of vitamin B12, necessary for proper brain function. Aside from fatty fish, eggs are one of the only foods to naturally contain vitamin D, which supports immune function. They are also one of the best sources of choline for pregnant women, a nutrient necessary for fetal brain development.
Don’t Ditch the Yolk
Due to associations with cholesterol, yolks are often discarded, but the bright yellow center of an egg is nutrient-rich. The yolk contains the majority of vitamin D and B12 found in eggs. While it does contain cholesterol, it is not a significant source of saturated fat — the type of fat that is associated with cardiac complications.
This is particularly good news when it comes to dinner. Eggs are cheap, cook quickly and are readily available. As such, they are an easy way to add protein to a meal. They can be made into a vegetable-filled crustless quiche, frittata, or even added to a fiber-rich pasta dish. They also take kindly to spring vegetables like asparagus and peas.
So, 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.
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 is co-director of 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. They also publish a timely nutrition tip each month.