photoIt seems that all dietary advice is regularly scrambled and the latest example is the lowly egg, long decried as a source of excessive cholesterol.

But now, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says today's egg has grown up and gone straight. A nationwide sampling of eggs finds your typical large egg contains about 185 milligrams of cholesterol, down from 215 milligrams just a few short years ago.

Why would that be? Well, no one really knows. Maybe today's chickens are eating a better diet. Or maybe they're getting more exercise, although if you've ever seen an egg factory, you'll have a hard time believing that.

But whatever the reason, the USDA now says it's OK to eat one egg a day.

"Evidence suggests that one egg (i.e. egg yolk) per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people," according to the government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

More vitamin D

Not only does today's egg have less cholesterol, it has more vitamin D – 41 International units (IU) -- than a few years ago, when it had a measly 25. That's thought to be the result of farmers beefing up the chicken feed with extra vitamins.

And not only that, the American Egg Board (yes, there is such a thing) is quick to point out that eggs have other sterling qualities, including:

  • Protein The right mix of protein and carbs is always controversial but if it's protein you're after, a large egg contains about 6.25 grams of protein and is virtually free of carbohydrates.
  • Gluten Those who suffer from celiac disease will do just about anything to avoid gluten, the protein found in all forms of wheat. Unfortunately, gluten is also used as a stabilizer in any number of foods, a role that egg protein can fill perfectly, say Egg Board researchers.
  • Low-Glycemic Formulations There's a lot of buzz these days about choosing foods that don't cause spikes in blood glucose levels, important both for those with diabetes or pre-diabetes and those trying to control their weight. Eggs, which are packed with protein but contain virtually no carbohydrates, play into this scenario nicely.
  • Stabilization There are all kinds of chemicals and other substances being used as food “stabilizers.” Few are as natural as eggs, which perform more than 20 distinct functions in foods, many of which are regarded as stabilization.