Do you still think of eggs as nutritional no-nos? A growing body of research scrambles the old thinking that eggs raise the risk of heart disease. One egg does contain 186 milligrams cholesterol, but an analysis of two large studies found that healthy people who ate eggs didn't have an increased risk of heart disease or stroke.
"The amount that an egg a day would raise your blood cholesterol levels is actually pretty small," says Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, nutrition department chairman at the Harvard School of Public Health. The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults stick to about an egg a day, but that's an average. Two eggs every other day are fine, too, Willett says.
Eggs can be a good choice for a healthy diet, given that they’re only 70 calories each, inexpensive, a snap to prepare, popular with kids, and packed with 6 grams of protein. The protein may even make eggs a good choice if you're trying to slim down. In one recent study, people ate breakfasts of either eggs or wheat cereal with nearly identical calories and protein. Those who ate eggs felt fuller and ate less at lunch.
Try these tasty, easy-to-prepare egg dishes.
Southwestern Egg Quesadillas
Who doesn’t love quesadillas? And tucking scrambled eggs inside gives them a tasty protein boost.
Makes 6 servings
6 large eggs
3 scallions, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
freshly ground pepper
6 (8-inch) low-fat spinach or whole wheat tortillas
1 cup shredded low-fat Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup fresh or jarred salsa
fresh cilantro leaves
1. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high. Whisk eggs with scallions, tomato, jalapeño, and pepper to blend. Pour eggs and vegetables into hot pan, and gently scramble with a spatula until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.
2. Coat another large flat skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium high. Add one tortilla. Layer with a third of the cheese, scrambled eggs, and arugula, and top with another tortilla. Heat quesadilla until bottom is golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip to brown the other side. Repeat with remaining ingredients.
3. To serve, cut quesadillas in half and garnish with sour cream, salsa, and cilantro.
Hash Brown Veggie Quiche
This quiche recipe uses breakfast potatoes to make a crisp, gluten-free crust. A great meal for vegetarians, the quiche works well with a salad or fresh fruit on the side.
Makes 6 servings
2 cups shredded hash brown potatoes, defrosted if frozen, and squeezed dry
1 egg white (from 1 large egg), beaten
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
1/2 cup shredded low-fat Swiss cheese
6 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss potatoes with egg white until thoroughly coated. Press potato mixture evenly against the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate or springform pan coated with cooking spray. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until set. Remove from oven, and reduce heat to 350°F.
3. Coat a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high. Sauté onion until brown, 7 to 9 minutes. Add red pepper and broccoli, and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Layer vegetables and cheese over the prebaked crust.
4. In a medium bowl, beat 6 eggs thoroughly with milk, and pour over crust. Return quiche to oven, and bake 45 to 50 minutes or until eggs are firm.
5. Slice into wedges and serve.
Spinach Artichoke Eggs Benedict
This vegetarian meal looks lovely on a plate and works for brunch or a light dinner.
Makes 4 servings
1 (9-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
1½ tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup skim milk
1 heaping tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
dash of salt, ground pepper
8 large eggs
4 light whole-grain English muffins, toasted
2 cups fresh baby spinach
chopped fresh parsley
1. Place artichokes in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave 2 to 3 minutes until warm.
2. Make the sauce: Combine cornstarch with milk in a jar, and shake until cornstarch dissolves. Pour into a small saucepan and, over medium heat, stir until thick, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and add mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Stir until smooth.
3. Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat to medium-high. Crack each egg into the hot skillet, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Slide a spatula under each and flip. Cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Place two English muffin halves on each plate. Top each with a layer of spinach leaves, one egg, a few artichoke hearts, a tablespoon of sauce, and a sprinkle of parsley.
Per serving: 270 calories, 20 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 370 mg cholesterol, 11 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 301 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%
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