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Protein-Packed Egg and Veggie Breakfast Bowl

9 minute read

Egg yolks have gotten a bad rap over the years for elevating cholesterol when eating the whole egg provides numerous health benefits. Numerous studies have shown that egg yolks may not elevate “bad” cholesterol in most people.


A fat-like substance found in all of the body’s cells, cholesterol is necessary for the production of hormones, vitamin D, and for the digestive process. Cholesterol is manufactured by your body but is also found in certain foods.

Cholesterol is carried through the bloodstream in lipoproteins, which are a combination of lipids (fats) and proteins. These lipoproteins can either be classified as low-density lipoproteins (LDL or “bad”” cholesterol) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL or “good” cholesterol).

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An excess of low-density lipoproteins can deposit in the arteries, along with fat, calcium, and other substances, potentially leading to coronary heart disease (if buildup occurs in the heart’s arteries) and atherosclerosis. In contrast, high-density lipoproteins sweep the LDL particles from the arteries back to the liver to be excreted.

Higher LDL cholesterol means increased risk for cardiovascular disease; higher HDL lowers your risk.

Cholesterol and Eggs

Egg yolks contain a relatively high amount of dietary cholesterol; the yolk of one large egg contains about 185 mg of cholesterol. Barring underlying health conditions, the recommended daily intake is no more than 300 mg. Those diagnosed with diabetes or cardiovascular disease may be advised to consume less dietary cholesterol.

However, numerous studies indicate that cholesterol in eggs does not necessarily impact LDL serum cholesterol levels. Saturated and trans fats are more likely to raise LDL cholesterol than the cholesterol in an egg yolk.

Studies also show that the cholesterol found in animal foods only causes a rise in LDL cholesterol in about a third of research subjects and in some cases, this dietary cholesterol actually prompts the body to produce more HDL cholesterol along with the LDL for no net effect.

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Additionally, these low-density particles tend to be larger in size and believed to be less harmful than smaller particles. People with small,dense lipoproteins are at three-times greater risk for cardiovascular disease than those with larger lipoprotein particles.

Although many experts believe it’s generally safe to eat one egg each day in most cases, the Harvard School of Public Health suggests choline levels in egg yolks and other animal products may increase risk for cardiovascular disease. Research indicates that a byproduct of the metabolism of choline by gut bacteria is a compound called TMA, coverted by the liver to TMAO, which is closely tied to heart disease risk.

In healthy levels, choline supports liver function, nerve function and muscle movement, as well as energy levels and metabolism. However, too much choline may cause an increase in trimethylamine N-oxide, associated with cancer, insulin resistance, cardiovascular and kidney disease. 

The general consensus seems to be that whole eggs are not as much of a risk as previously considered. That bacon and buttered toast or breakfast pastry are raise your harmful cholesterol profile more than the eggs themselves.

Benefits of Egg Yolks

In moderation, egg yolks provide numerous health benefits not found in egg whites. Most of an egg’s protein is found in the egg yolk, which contributes about 80 percent of the egg's protein.

Nutrients found only in the yolk include:

♦ Choline

♦ Vitamin B12

♦ Vitamin D

♦ Vitamin A

♦ Vitamin B6

♦ Iron

♦ Vitamin E

♦ Zinc

The yolk contains most of the following nutrients in the whole egg:

♦ Folate

♦ Selenium

♦ Phosphorous

♦ Omega-3 fatty acids

♦ Lutein and Zeaxanthin

Egg yolks area bioavailable source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are associated with eye health, especially a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration. Studies have shown that a daily egg yolk increases levels of both antioxidants without raising LDL cholesterol.

Whole eggs supply numerous benefits and are a healthy choice to start the day. This recipe complements an egg with additional nutritional powerhouses instead of bacon and toast.

Egg & Veggie Breakfast Bowl

Serves: 4


1 lb. Brussels sprouts

1 lb. sweet potatoes

Olive Oil

2 cups arugula

4 eggs

Harissa Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons harissa

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Cut the Brussels sprouts in half. Dice the sweet potatoes. 

3. Spread out the Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes on the baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the vegetables; season with salt and pepper. 

4. Roast in the oven until golden brown and tender, 17 to 20 minutes. 

5. Poach or fry the eggs. 

6. To serve, divide the Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes between four bowls; top each with ½ cup arugula and 1 egg. Drizzle each bowl with 2 teaspoons of the harissa vinaigrette.

Harissa Vinaigrette:

In a small bowl, whisk the harissa with the olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Note: Harissa can be found in specialty markets. 

Healthy Ingredients

Brussels Sprouts

These miniature heads of cabbage are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, related to kale and cauliflower. Brussels sprouts are a particularly good source of vitamin K, contributing 137% of the RDI. Vitamin K may protect against osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.

In addition, these sprouts contribute 81% of the RDI for vitamin C and are packed with antioxidants, including kaempferol, which may reduce risk for cancer, decrease inflammation, and promote cardiovascular health.

Brussels sprouts are also a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, which are an anti-inflammatory, reduce risk of insulin resistance, cognitive decline, and high triglycerides.

Sweet Potatoes

In addition to providing color and flavor to this dish, sweet potatoes are a good source of beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. One cup of sweet potatoes contains almost eight times the daily value for beta-carotene (vitamin A), 65% for vitamin C, and 26% for fiber, as well as B vitamins, potassium, and phosphorous.


Also known as rocket, this spicy green is a nutritional powerhouse. Also a member of the cruciferous family, arugula is rich in glucosinolates. When eaten with other foods, glucosinolates break down into several compounds with potent anticarcinogenic properties that may inactivate carcinogenic chemicals, protect DNA from damage, induce apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells, and prevent blood vessel formation to tumors, as well as the migration of tumor cells.

Arugula is also high in numerous vitamins and antioxidants, including vitamins K and C, lutein and zeaxanthin, folate, and chlorophyll.


This fiery condiment is a hot chili pepper paste associated with Tunisian, Moroccan, Libya, and Algeria. The paste typically contains roasted red peppers, various dried peppers, garlic, and spices. The capsaicin, a chemical compound that contributes the “heat” to chili, can protect against hypertension and may decrease risk for certain cancers, as well as possibly providing cancer-fighting benefits.

Frequent use of capsaicin may help with insulin resistance and to improve blood sugar and insulin reactions in people with diabetes.

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