By Patricia West-Barker
For The Taos News
Eggs, happily foraged for and eaten throughout human history, started disappearing from Americans' breakfast tables in the late 1970s when researchers examining the impact of exercise, smoking and diet on heart health discovered a link between high blood cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease. Recommendations to eliminate or greatly reduce foods with high cholesterol content, such as butter, red meat, shrimp and eggs, soon followed.
What the early researchers did not know was that for most people the high cholesterol content of some animal foods had little to no effect on the levels of cholesterol circulating in their blood stream. Saturated fats (usually solid at room temperature) and trans fats (chemically produced by hydrogenating oils) were the real culprits boosting blood cholesterol levels.
Studies began casting doubt on eggs' role in increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke in 1999. In 2016, an overview of seven studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that "people who had a high egg intake (generally considered seven a week) had a 12 percent reduced risk of stroke compared with those who had a low egg intake (less than two eggs a week). The most recent research, published in The BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) this past spring, also concludes that "there is an association between a moderate level of egg consumption (up to 1 egg per day) and a lower cardiac event rate."
What the accumulating evidence seems to say is that despite their earlier bad rap, eggs do not appear to contribute to heart disease and may even help prevent it. The evidence is less clear for people with diabetes and for "hyper-responders," people genetically inclined to convert high dietary cholesterol to high blood cholesterol. Continue to follow your doctor's advice if you fall into one of those categories.
Others can feel freer to eat more eggs, as long as they're prepared and served simply, without high-fat add-ons, such as cheese, bacon, sausages or fried potatoes.
A few suggestions:
A bowl of hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator is handy for a quick high-protein snack, to slice and add to a salad or to top a piece of avocado toast.
Poached eggs are a perfect, no-fat-added addition to other dishes. Poaching takes practice. Watch one of the online videos, such as "How to Poach Eggs for Beginners," posted on YouTube by the Food Network. Serve poached eggs on whole grain toast or over refried beans. They also go nicely with steamed asparagus, softly cooked young greens or a simple bowl of hot broth.
The best scrambled eggs require patience and maybe a bit of butter.
Place the eggs in a bowl and whisk vigorously until whites and yolks are thoroughly blended, adding some air to lighten the mixture and prevent streaks. Add a pinch of salt.
Coat a nonstick skillet with a small amount of butter or oil and turn the burner on to medium-low. (Too low is better than too high. High heat makes eggs tough and dry.) Pour the eggs into the skillet and let sit for a minute or two.
Push the eggs across and around the skillet with a spatula until mostly set -- this could take anywhere from four to 10 minutes. The eggs will continue to cook for a minute or so when you take the pan off the heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper or top with salsa or roasted green chile.
For a more substantial dish, warm some diced, cooked, leftover veggies (like zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms or young greens) in a tablespoon of olive oil before adding the beaten eggs.