Eggs come with many warnings. Don't count their contents before they hatch; never put them all in one basket; and for the sake of your health, try not to eat too many.
Infamous for their high cholesterol levels, eggs were once blamed for increasing the risk of heart disease. Research has since shown that saturated fat, not dietary cholesterol, has the most influence on levels of cholesterol in blood. In fact, a Harvard School of Public Health study found no relationship between moderate egg consumption (up to an egg a day) and cardiovascular disease among healthy people. Of course, if you already have high cholesterol levels, you need to limit your intake of all forms of cholesterol, eggs included. But the rest of us can take advantage of the American Heart Association's allowance of up to 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day. An egg falls safely within that range.
Eggs won't add much to your caloric intake (about 75 calories for an average large one), nor will they tax your wallet at a few dollars per carton. But this small package houses plenty of nutrition. The yolk contains all the egg's fat (about 5 grams) and cholesterol (about 210 mg), but also ample amounts of vitamins B2 and B12. B2, an antioxidant commonly called riboflavin, promotes healthy skin; B12 helps create red blood cells and helps control homocysteine levels, an indicator of heart disease and stroke. The yolk also has a small amount of vitamin K, a nutrient that helps support liver and bone health. Its minerals -- selenium and choline -- protect against cancer-causing free radicals and help brain function, respectively. Egg yolk is also among the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which strengthens bones and reduces the risk of multiple sclerosis and diabetes. As for the egg white, it provides about 6 grams of protein in a form the body can digest, absorb, and use efficiently.
If you're eager to get more eggs into your diet, look beyond the breakfast plate to appetizers, main courses, sauces, soups, sides, and desserts. As our recipes above show, there's more than one way to crack an egg.
Text by Matthew Solan; recipes by Sandra Gluck