After decades of communicating the need to limit eggs, it has now become evident that eggs have had a very unfair report card; the Ministry of Health’s latest Eating and Activity Guidelines1 reflect more recent developments in scientific understanding and the new statement helps clarify the guidelines when it comes to eggs. The new statement, agreed by the Ministry of Health, says: Eggs are a healthy, natural whole food that the New Zealand Ministry of Health Eating and Activity Guidelines state can be enjoyed by most people every day of the week.
This is great news for egg lovers, as many may have been given incorrect advice in the past or still be trapped in old school thinking. For healthy New Zealanders, experts agree that consuming eggs each day will provide excellent nutritional benefits and won’t increase our risk of heart disease.
However, Kiwis have yet to catch up to the revised recommendations, and are still confused about how often they can eat eggs. Recent Colmar Brunton Research found that only 41% of New Zealanders know that healthy people can eat eggs every day.2
Dr Pamela von Hurst, Senior Lecturer in Human Nutrition at Massey University and a member of the Ministry of Health’s Eating and Activity Guidelines Technical Advisory Group agrees the new statement will help New Zealanders understand that most Kiwis can enjoy eggs daily without restriction. Dr von Hurst says “a lot of people have been concerned about potential health consequences of eggs in the diet.” “I think it is great that there has now been some clarification about the guidelines around consumption of eggs because they are such a useful, healthy contribution to the diet,” Dr von Hurst adds.
New Zealand nutrition experts agree that eating eggs every day can be a beneficial part of a healthy balanced diet. Professor Elaine Rush, scientific advisor for New Zealand Nutrition Foundation and esteemed Professor of Nutrition at AUT says, “the statement about being able to eat eggs every day for most people is a very sensible one. Through recent studies on eggs, we know more about the health benefits and nutritional value of eggs than ever before. Recent studies conducted in healthy people show no effect of daily egg intake on blood cholesterol levels3,4,5 and the latest scientific evidence shows no association between increased intake of dietary cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease or stroke.6
The agreed statement also follows the recent update to the Heart Foundation’s advice. Their recommendation is now that those at risk of heart disease can eat 6 to 7 eggs a week.7 “The amount of evidence we have, particularly high-quality evidence about cholesterol, eggs and risk for disease, has now accumulated so we can analyse many studies and draw the conclusion that for most people eggs have no risk at all,” Professor Rush says. “Eating eggs does not cause or increase risk of heart disease for most people, and are actually a very sensible food to eat,” she adds.
Eggs are good for our health in so many different ways and they are an excellent source of very affordable nutrition. Claire Turnbull, NZ Registered Nutritionist regularly recommends eggs as part of a healthy balanced diet. “Both the egg white and the yolk have different nutritional benefits so for maximum goodness, it is really good to eat both – they have lots of protein in them as well as 11 different vitamins and minerals including iron, B vitamins as well as the fat-soluble vitamins A and E,” Turnbull says. “For the average healthy Kiwi, it’s absolutely fine to be eating eggs every day”.
Head of Performance Nutrition at High Performance Sport NZ and NZ Registered Dietitian Jeni Pearce also encourages people to eat eggs, and says most of the athletes she works with would have them every day in some form. “The unique thing about an egg is that it is a complete source of the highest quality protein, while not being a high calorie food, so it’s very easy to add an egg to the diet for great nutrition,” she explains. “Many athletes don’t get enough protein at breakfast and eggs are a great way to increase this.” Pearce concurs with New Zealand’s nutrition experts that the new statement agreed by the Ministry of Health will be helpful for Kiwis who can now be assured it is okay for most people to eat eggs every day.
- Ministry of Health. 2015. Eating and Activity Guidelines for New Zealand Adults. Wellington: Ministry of Health.
- Colmar and Brunton National Omnibus, March 2017.
- Katz, D.L., et al., Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Int J Cardiol, 2005. 99(1): p. 65-70.
- Rueda, J.M. and P. Khosla, Impact of breakfasts (with or without eggs) on body weight regulation and blood lipids in university students over a 14-week semester. Nutrients, 2013. 5(12): p. 5097-113
- Clayton, Z.S., et al., Influence of Resistance Training Combined with Daily Consumption of an Egg-based or Bagel-based Breakfast on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases in Healthy Untrained Individuals. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015. 34(2): p. 113-9.
- Berger, S., et al., Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2015. 102(2): p. 276-94.
- Heart Foundation. 2015. Evidence Paper: Eggs and the Heart. Auckland, New Zealand: Heart Foundation.
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