No doubt this classic question has crossed your mind: aren’t eggs bad for my cholesterol? But I’ve heard, maybe not. Sometimes nutrition messages about what is good and what is not are throw-up-your-hands confusing.
Food and nutrition research has evolved over time as better methods of gathering information are developed, which partly is why you see the messages change. But, how do you know you are getting accurate information? The Internet is usually the first choice to search for the answer, but friends and family may be sources, too. Both can be inaccurate.
- Look at the source of the data and information. Is it from a professional medical source? Is the source selling a product? Is the information supported with references?
- Ask your dietitian, doctor, or pharmacist, when you have health questions related to nutrition and health.
Have you ever wondered about…
The Value of Eggs
If you are looking for a great source of nutrition, eggs are at the top. At 72 calories per egg, they are an excellent source of protein (6 grams), plus lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for eyes; choline which supports the brain and nerves; and vitamins (A, D, and B). Eggs for now are back to being relatively inexpensive and can be important part of a healthy diet.
The past message we heard was to avoid eggs because they could raise cholesterol. Granted, eggs contain
186 mg. of cholesterol all found in the yolk. In the past for people dealing with high cholesterol the recommendation was just eat egg whites.
However, eggs are very low in saturated fat despite being high in cholesterol. Saturated fat is the real culprit in increasing risk for cardiovascular disease. Recent research shows the liver makes cholesterol from saturated fats found in high fat foods like high fat meats and dairy products, and some oils and fats. Cholesterol produced by the liver has a negative effect on heart health more than consumed dietary cholesterol. Large population studies also have shown that daily egg consumption does not contribute to cardiovascular disease.
Keep in mind eggs tend to partner with sausage and bacon which contain a high amount of saturated fat. So, follow a Mediterranean, plant-based style of eating and include eggs.
The Benefits of Caffeine
f you love a good cup of coffee or cup of tea, you are getting more than just great flavor and a caffeine boost. Along with caffeine, coffee and some teas also contain polyphenols with anti-inflammatory properties. Because of caffeine, coffee and tea are linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Caffeine is often used for its stimulant effect to help with exercise endurance, improve alertness, and increase metabolic rate.
The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day which is about 4 to 5 cups of coffee. How much someone can tolerate varies by individual. People who drink a lot of caffeine can drink it up to bedtime and not have trouble sleeping. Others should stop in the early afternoon. Decaf coffee contains a small amount of caffeine so super sensitive people may need to avoid decaf coffee before sleeping.
Caffeine is a stimulant and for some people even a moderate amount can cause jitteriness, feeling nervous or anxious. It also can raise blood pressure and heart rate. Check with your doctor if this happens. You may need to limit or stop caffeine. Backing off caffeine should be done gradually to avoid headaches and nervousness.
Caffeine and Atrial Fibrillation (AF)
A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association suggested a lower risk of AF among men who reported 1 to 3 cups/day of coffee per day. If you have AF, check with your doctor about consuming any beverage with caffeine. Coffee has more caffeine than tea and other beverages. Avoid energy drinks with caffeine as these drinks may have other ingredients that could be harmful.
Chocolate and Good Health
And, yes, chocolate contains caffeine, especially dark chocolate because of the higher amount of cacao. Consuming dark chocolate for health benefits may have merit as research shows dark chocolate has anti-inflammatory compounds polyphenols and flavonoids. However, processing the cocoa bean into chocolate decreases the amounts. Unless the chocolate is fortified with polyphenols and flavonoids, the value of dark chocolate diminishes. It remains the better choice over semi-sweet or milk chocolate because of the additional fat and sugar in both of those chocolates.
A recent large study demonstrates that women who consumed 1 to 3 servings of dark chocolate per week had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and brain related conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s. The benefit is slight and may be influenced by other positive health behaviors.
Best advice: Enjoy chocolate rather than believe it can improve your health.
Lemon Lime Summer Water
Nothing is more refreshing than a big glass of cold water when it’s hot. The beverage industry has figured out how to make carbonated flavored water as an alternative to soda. But to save a pretty penny, make your own. Fill a 2- quart pitcher with water. Slice one lemon and two limes in rings and drop those into the pitcher. Chill and serve. The water can be replenished without changing the fruit since the lemon and lime continue to add flavor. Vitamin C from the fruit adds an extra bonus. To get extra fancy, drop in a few strawberries.
Written by: Mimi Cunningham, MA, RDN, CDCES
Mimi is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and diabetes care specialist helping people learn to manage their diabetes and achieve good health. She believes food definitely is good culinary medicine.