Created in partnership with Pete and Gerry’s.
By Keri Glassman, MS, RD
There was an amazing, catchy jingle that played on television and radio commercials in the 90s and got stuck in my head constantly. “I love eggs—from my head down to my legs! You’ve got to love it, the incredible, edible egg!”
It was all marketing, of course, but at the time, the unpopular egg needed the boost. This was during an era in which nutritional science suggested dietary fat and cholesterol were largely responsible for the rising percentage of Americans facing obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Eggs were high in cholesterol, so they were kicked out of the nutritious club.
Because science is dynamic and progressive and we’re always learning more, we know now that the research that led to those conclusions was flawed. (More on that later!) Renowned researchers, top physicians, and experienced registered dietitians like me agree that eggs really do reserve that “incredible, edible” reputation, but producers can’t even call them “healthy” on the carton (let alone sing about it).
That is why Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs has filed a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) petition demanding a change. Americans need cleaner, healthier, whole foods like these in their diets. But it’s hard to choose those healthy foods if they don’t even know they’re healthy. As a nutritional advisor to Pete and Gerry’s, I’m here to help explain.
How do we know eggs are healthy? First of all, they’re filled with important nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and choline, a nutrient essential for brain health.
The old advice to avoid them was all about cholesterol. High cholesterol in the blood is a known risk factor for heart disease and strokes, and nutritionists used to believe eating foods high in cholesterol would raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Actually, that’s not the case. More recent reviews of the research have shown no association between eating whole foods that are high in cholesterol and increased risk of heart disease or stroke. Foods that are associated with raising blood cholesterol levels include trans fats, fried foods, and refined sugar.
This isn’t fringe thinking, it’s now accepted science, applauded by experts like the chair of Harvard’s Department of Nutrition and the chair of cardiovascular medicine at the esteemed Cleveland Clinic. In fact, it’s so established that in 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) updated the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to eliminate dietary cholesterol as a cause for concern. “Eat all of the eggs you want,” said one government agency.
“But wait!” said the other government agency. “Don’t call them healthy!”
Essentially, the FDA hasn’t updated its labeling rules to reflect this new thinking. It’s slow to change, like many government agencies. It’s our job, though, to pressure them to speed up the process. Despite many cultural shifts towards healthier eating, America’s obesity problem has gotten even worse.
When we find whole foods that are nutrient-dense and can help people fill their plate in better ways, we need to yell the word healthy from the rooftops. If egg producers can’t put “healthy” on the label, consumers won’t know to reach for a dozen when they’re shopping for healthier options.
To support Pete and Gerry’s FDA Petition, go to eggsarehealthy.com and leave a comment.