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Myth Buster

Does Protecting Your Heart Mean Giving Up Eggs?

Myth: Eggs are bad for you.

Facts: If you thought that you were protecting your heart from artery-hardening cholesterol by forgoing omelets and eggs Benedict, think again. Eggs are a great source of the latest superheroes of health—omega-3 fatty acids.

Thousands of studies have shown that omega-3s—especially the two types called DHA and EPA—lower total cholesterol, including LDL or “bad” cholesterol, particularly among people with coronary artery disease. In three particular studies, omega-3 supplements contributed to a 19 to 45 percent reduction in cardiovascular events.

That’s right—the same cardiovascular system we thought we were protecting by omitting eggs from our diet (or at least switching to an egg substitute or feeding the yolks to the dog) actually benefits from them.

First recognized as an essential nutrient only in the 1980s, omega-3s originate in the green leaves of plants. Today, an exploding body of research points to a wide range of omega-3 benefits—from preventing prostate cancer to reducing cognitive decline in older adults, as well as cardiovascular perks.

So eat eggs, counsels Susan Allport, author of The Queen of Fats, and don’t ditch the yolks, where omega-3s are concentrated.

Here’s the catch, though. Not all eggs are created equal. Most eggs at the supermarket these days are laid by chickens fed a diet of corn and soybeans. Because omega-3s are found only in plants’ leaves—not their seeds—only eggs laid by chickens that were pasture-fed or given an enriched diet contain the omega-3s we need.

“Look for the ones that have about 100mg of DHA or 300mg of total omega-3s,” Allport says. Such eggs reveal a bright orange yolk when cracked open. “You just know,” says Allport, “that you’re eating something that’s packed with nutrients.”

So if you’re fond of eggs sunny-side up, you’re in luck.

Beth Goulart is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas.

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