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Eggs and Child Nutrition

Question of the Week

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Updated May 22, 2014

Girl (8-9) sitting at dining table eating boiled egg, side view
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Q. I am worried about my kids also getting high cholesterol. Should I let them eat eggs? How many eggs can my kids eat each week?

A. General dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association are that adults eat no more than 3-4 eggs yolks each week. There aren't any formal recommendations for children, but like adults, it is recommended that children limit their intake of cholesterol to 300mg each day. Since an egg contains about 213mg of cholesterol, eating eggs too often can cause your child to have a diet that is high in cholesterol.

Eggs can be a healthy part of your child's diet though and shouldn't be avoided altogether. In addition to being high in cholesterol, eggs also have a lot of benefits, including being high in protein, iron, minerals and B vitamins.

Instead of worrying about how many eggs your child eats, it is more important to look at and plan his overall diet by trying to follow the Food Guide Pyramid. In the Food Pyramid, eggs are a part of the Meat, Poultry, Fish, Dry Beans and Nuts food group. Younger children, aged 2-6, should get two servings from this food group each day, while older children can have 2-3 servings.

In addition to recommended daily servings from the Meat food group, it is important to look at how much cholesterol your child is getting from other foods. If he already has a diet that is high in cholesterol, with large amounts of whole milk, cheese, yogurt, processed meats or ice cream, then eating eggs on a regular basis is probably not a good idea. If his diet is low in cholesterol and saturated fats and he eats a lot of foods with fiber, then routinely eating eggs is probably okay.

It is also important to keep in mind that the general recommendations for eating 3-4 eggs per week include eggs that are eaten as an ingredient of other foods, such as cakes. For example, if you use 4 eggs to bake a cake and your child eats 2 of the 8 pieces of the cake, then that is equal to eating one whole egg.

And the relationship between dietary cholesterol and how or whether or not it influences your blood cholesterol level is controversial. Many critics of the American Heart Association's recommendations think that it is much more important to limit the amount of saturated fats in a person's diet, instead of limiting cholesterol.

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