Eggs are back on American plates. Although consumption has not rebounded to the egg-rich days of the mid 1940s, when each person averaged 404 eggs per year, the current annual per capita appetite for eggs, forecast at 279 eggs this year, shows a meaningful recovery from the low-point of 229 eggs per person consumed in 1992.
Why are eggs making a comeback? In part, it has to do with the diminishing fear of dietary cholesterol, as scientists and nutrition experts grapple with a fact that has been apparent in the scientific literature for some time: the cholesterol we eat does not have much of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood. In fact, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans softened the stance on dietary cholesterol, removing it from the list of “nutrients of concern.”
The Washington Post covers the story of this egg-citing return to what we knew decades ago: eggs are a nutrient-dense, unprocessed real food and a relatively cheap source of complete protein.
There is more work to do to completely rehabilitate eggs’ reputation. Whole food diets, like keto and paleo, help to move the conversation in the right direction. But there is another regulatory stumbling block: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although many nutritionists now see the fats contained in egg yolks as a healthy part of what an egg has to offer, the FDA policies are behind the times:
…[The FDA’s] definition for “healthy” on food labels does not apply to egg producers, because eggs exceed the agency’s criteria for fat and cholesterol. The FDA has acknowledged that public health recommendations have changed, and the agency is currently reviewing public input to update its definition of “healthy” for food labeling.
Hopefully, the FDA will get crackin’ on that long overdue update, vindicating not just eggs but other whole foods that contain fat.