Yes, but in moderation. Contrary to popular belief, eggs, in general, are good for you, says Jessica Jones, MS, RD, a clinical dietician at Brooklyn-based Kings County Hospital Center. Poached, scrambled, or sunny-side up, you’ll meet about 10 percent of your body’s protein needs for the day by eating just one egg, at a cost of only 80 calories. The yolk is especially nutrient-rich, packing vitamins A (an eyesight- and immune-system-boosting antioxidant), D (which helps the body absorb bone-fortifying calcium), K (which produces proteins for healthy tissues and bones), and B12 (which keeps nerves and blood cells tip-top).
But here’s the catch: Eggs are also high in cholesterol. In fact, one egg packs about 185 mg of dietary cholesterol, a hefty 62 percent of the recommended daily intake for healthy people. If you take cholesterol-lowering meds, have high LDL (bad) cholesterol, or heart disease, aim to limit the number of eggs in your diet to one daily. When you prepare eggs, consider tossing out the cholesterol-rich yolks and eating only the egg whites. You can also try egg beaters, which contain no yolk.
Remember, on days you eat an egg, to cap cholesterol intake from other animal-based sources, including dairy, meat, and poultry. Note also that foods made with butter (think breads, cakes, pastries) contribute toward your daily cholesterol intake. Healthy people can consume up to 300 mg of cholesterol per day. For those who take cholesterol-lowering meds, or have high cholesterol, or heart disease, limiting intake of cholesterol to 200 mg daily is recommended.
Eating eggs was once thought to up risk for heart disease, says Jones. But a 1999 Harvard School of Public Health study that followed 117,000 men and women for 10-plus years found that eating up to one egg a day is unlikely to have a substantial impact on risk for heart disease or stroke, she explains. In 2000, the American Heart Association changed its guidelines to allow healthy adults one egg per day.