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How do you like your eggs? Scrambled, over easy or fried? It seems that if you want to follow a heart-healthy diet, you should skip them altogether. Though packed with protein, their high cholesterol content gives eggs a bad reputation. But if you love eggs and refuse to ban them from your diet, take heart. The American Heart Association offers a solution to satisfy your cravings and keep your heart happy and healthy.

The difference between HDL, LDL

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance created in your liver to insulate nerve fibers, maintain cell walls and produce Vitamin D, hormones and digestive juices. Though we all need cholesterol, our bodies naturally produce the majority of what we need daily and the rest we obtain from food.

Two kinds of cholesterol can be found in foods: high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). HDL is "good" cholesterol because it helps move cholesterol back into the liver for removal from the bloodstream. LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, collects on artery walls and is a leading cause of heart attack and stroke. The AHA recommends that adults limit their cholesterol intake to less than 300 milligrams per day.

Unfortunately, eggs are the single largest source of cholesterol among the foods we commonly eat. A large egg contains 215 milligrams (more than two-thirds the recommended daily amount).

But that doesn't mean you have to endure an egg-free diet. According to the AHA, eggs are rich in protein, B vitamins and iron, and can be enjoyed in moderation. However, if you enjoy an egg for breakfast you should limit other high-cholesterol foods like meat, poultry and dairy products that day.

Keep your meals egg-citing

Eggs can be enjoyed in many ways. To reap the greatest rewards from your favorite food, follow these tips from the American Heart Association:

• Use only properly refrigerated, clean, fresh, grade AA or A eggs.

• Poach eggs instead of frying or use a nonstick vegetable spray to reduce fat.

• Serve eggs with low-fat foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole-grain bread, and skim milk cheese.

• Serve egg dishes promptly or keep them refrigerated.

• Opt for cholesterol-free egg substitutes and yolk-free alternatives when cooking.

• Replace one egg in cooking with two egg whites.

Concerned about your heart health? Quality cardiovascular care is right around the corner. Dr. Ashu Dhanjal, F.A.C.C., is a non-invasive cardiologist in Siloam Springs and is now accepting new patients. She is a member of the medical staff at Northwest Health. To schedule an appointment, call 479-757-5200.

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