Given how many people in the last wk have raised their eyebrows and remarked, "aren't they bad for you?" in response to my "eat eggs" recommendation, I thought I'd set the record straight.
Yes, they are high in fat and cholesterol, both which reside in the yolk.
No, eating the white only is not "better."
While the yolk is fattening by comparison with the white (5g vs. 0g for a large egg), it also contains 3 of the 6 grams of protein in the egg, along with calcium, copper, zinc, Vitamin E, Omega 3s, riboflavin, Vitamin D, etc. The white alone really only provides protein, and surprise, most of the egg's sodium. By tossing the yolk entirely, you miss out on the above nutrients which actually work in conjunction with the protein in the white for muscle growth, cell repair and memory function, to mention a few.
While convenient, the packaged whites are actually the worst option. Not only do you lose the important nutrients naturally occurring in the yolk, but also, like any packaged product that has an extended shelf life, you get to consume an additional 115grams of sodium, vegetable gums, phosphates and other preservatives. Some brands do contain traces of the vitamins and nutrients originally in the egg, but they are added in, like cereal, bread and other enriched foods.
My clients know our diet “The Arsenal” is based on simplicity. Eat foods as close to what was growing (fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts) or grazing in the field or swimming in the water (meats and fish) as possible. So, the less-processed items on your menu, the happier your tummy will be. Plus, in this instance, I’m giving you a license to eat something that actually tastes better. Please don’t argue that Egg Beaters and the like taste better…the flavoring is just another on the list of additives anyway.
Regarding cholesterol, instead of getting hung up on the dietary cholesterol listed on food labels, we should be more concerned with monitoring the level of cholesterol in our bloodstream. This measure is more affected by the mix of fats in our diets rather than the cholesterol we intake from food. We’ll chat fats in another entry.
So who wins the egg debate? Here’s my crack at it:
In the interest of limiting daily fat and calories, and keeping an eye on cholesterol, I recommend eating a 2:1 ratio of whites:full egg. Crack 4 eggs in a bowl and remove 2 yolks before scrambling. If you already have your doctor hounding you about high cholesterol or heart disease, you should reduce the ratio to 3:1, removing 3 of the 4 yolks in the former example, and enjoy this omelet no more than 3 times a week.
In addition to maintaining the healthy nutrient content of consuming the full egg, both options taste great and are more satisfying than choking down another egg white omelet, which I can say from my experience as an egg-white-only girl. I’ll shoot you the recipe in a min for my favorite omelet, which is now gaining popularity on the left coast too.
Easy (& Impressive) Omelet
As I mentioned in “Eggs Are Not the Enemy,” eggs are a great source of protein, and consuming the yolk delivers calcium, copper, zinc, Vitamin E, Omega 3s, riboflavin, Vitamin D, etc, essential for nice muscles, hair, skin, nails…
I eat this omelet about 3-4 days a week as a quick easy guilt-free meal. It honestly keeps me comfortably fueled for 3-4 hours while running around with clients. Experience proves this recipe a winner for the single person cooking for him/herself, impressing a late-night/come-morning guest, the parents who didn’t teach you to cook, or for anyone short on time or cash (eggs are cheaper than alternative protein sources such as chicken, beef and fish). This one turns out colorful and tasty, but feel free to make your own veggie substitutions for my suggested ingredients below.
1tsp olive oil or use olive oil spray
4 large eggs
¼ small red onion (chopped) [It looks more purple than red. I won’t apologize for the misnomer].
½ red pepper (chopped)
2 cups fresh spinach
1/4-1/2 avocado (chopped)
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Optional: a sprinkle feta or goat’s cheese and balsamic vinegar
Add 1tsp olive oil to a small stainless steel pan to keep omelet from sticking. Add chopped onion, pepper and basil to pan, turn on medium heat and sauté for a minute (you’re heating to very lightly soften and for flavor, so don’t kill it. Veggies maintain the nutrients and taste better firm). Crack all 4 eggs into a bowl and remove 2 yolks. Whip eggs with a wire whisk or fork, and pour eggs into pan over the veggies. Add optional crumbles of feta or goat’s cheese and quickly stir with heat-resistant spatula to get veggies distributed throughout egg mixture. Cook for a minute or two and use spatula to keep lifting up the egg as it firms on one side and tilt pan so uncooked egg runs off the top an under the spatula. Once pretty firm throughout, be a kitchen whiz and flip this small omelet one time with the spatula. Place omelet directly on top of fresh spinach, the heat will lightly wilt the greens, or sauté the spinach for 2min on low/medium heat with or without a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and place the greens on the plate with the omelet. Top w/ avocado and fresh ground pepper to taste.
*Those with diabetes, high cholesterol and/or heart disease should reduce the egg white:full egg ratio to 3:1, removing 3 of the 4 yolks and enjoy this omelet no more than 3 times a week.