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 deserve that “incredible, edible” reputation, but producers cant even call them "healthy" on the carton (let alone sing about it).
That is why Pete & Gerry's has filed a petition with the Food and Drug Administration 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 & Gerry's, I'm here to help explain.
Eggs are full of essential vitamins and nutrients
How do we know that eggs are a healthy, good-for-you food? First of all, eggs are filled with essential nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and choline, a key nutrient for brain health. Eggs also provide essential polyunsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly important for a healthy diet as they are not naturally produced by the human body.
Eggs won't raise blood cholesterol levels
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!”
Eggs deserve to be labeled "healthy"
As of this writing in 2018, 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 world 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 & Gerry's FDA Petition, go to EggsAreHealthy.com and leave a comment.
Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is a renowned celebrity nutritionist, healthy cooking expert, and wellness thought-leader. She is the founder and CEO of Nutritious Life and The Nutritious Life Studio, an online certification that provides unparalleled, forward-thinking education to individuals of various backgrounds looking to establish successful careers in the health and wellness industry.
Keri is a Today Show Tastemaker and a contributing editor and advisory board member for Women's Health Magazine. She is the author of four bestselling books, including The New You and Improved Diet and The O2 Diet. She's also regularly featured on national television programs like The Today Show, Good Morning America, and The Rachael Ray Show and is a prolific contributor and commentator for countless other top media outlets.
She resides in New York City with her smoothie-obsessed children, Rex and Maizy.