Can You Eat Eggs on the Mediterranean Diet?

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Eggs aren’t traditionally considered a Mediterranean staple, so you might be wondering if you can eat them on a Mediterranean diet.

Eggs are a great source of various vitamins and minerals, but many people bring up their high cholesterol as a health problem.

This article will cover eating eggs on the Mediterranean diet and review the evidence about their health.

Can You Eat Eggs on the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet pyramid is one of the best representations of what is allowed on the Mediterranean diet.

It shows that eggs should be eaten in similar amounts to dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt.

Although there is no definitive Mediterranean diet guide, these guidelines are a good indication of what to eat.

Therefore, eggs are allowed on the Mediterranean diet. However, it’s best to consider other factors such as weighing up its health benefits vs problems and how many to eat rather than simply taking the pyramid at face value. 

How Many Eggs Per Week on the Mediterranean Diet?

The Mediterranean diet pyramid generally allows eggs and yogurt 0-2 servings per day. 

Based on this number of servings, a good rule of thumb is for a maximum of 14 servings of dairy and eggs weekly.

Since you’re including both eggs and dairy and will likely consume some dairy products in other meals, a good estimate would be in the region of 2-6 eggs per week.

This allows you to eat some dairy without overdoing it.

Health Benefits of Eggs

Eggs are a cheap and quick source of protein, as well as being a nutritional powerhouse. There are a number of health benefits of eating eggs:

Very Nutritious

Eggs contain lots of vitamins that many of us don’t get enough of such as iodine and vitamins B12 and D.

They are also high in protein and contain all the amino acids needed.

Omega-3 enriched eggs, where the chicken has been fed flaxseeds, also contain good amounts of the omega-3 fat DHA. This is only found in high quantities in fatty fish.

Can Help Aid Weight Loss

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which is more filling than fats and carbohydrates. 

Eggs are ranked highly on the satiety index, a measure for how filling a food is. This means that when people eat these kinds of foods, they are more likely to feel full and help reduce their calorie intake later in the day.

One study over a 8 week period found that the group eating eggs for breakfast had significantly more weight loss than the group with the same amount of calories from bagels, losing 16% more body fat (1)

Increases ‘Good’ Cholesterol

HDL is known as the ‘good’ cholesterol. People with higher levels of HDL cholesterol tend to have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues  (234).

One study found that healthy adults who ate 1-3 eggs daily increased their HDL levels by 6-13% in a 4 week period (567).

Is the Cholesterol in Eggs Bad?

Generally, recent studies have shown that there hasn’t been a link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease.

For example, one study reviewing 5847 cases of coronary heart disease and 7579 cases of stroke found that people who ate up to 7 eggs a day showed no increased risk of heart disease or stroke (8)

One of the reasons suggested is that humans produce cholesterol themselves, so will make less cholesterol if more dietary cholesterol is consumed instead.

However, you may see an occasional study that finds something different. For example, a study in 2019 found that eating an additional 300mg of cholesterol each day raised the risk of cardiovascular disease, as did eating 3-4 eggs a week on average (9).

The problem with a lot of studies, particularly within nutrition, is that they are observational, meaning they can’t prove that eggs caused the increased risk, merely that there was an association. 

The higher risks of cardiovascular disease or death were found because of total dietary cholesterol, which primarily came in the form of meat, not eggs. 

This is an important distinction because the meat sources typically have higher saturated fat and cholesterol levels, whereas eggs contain more cholesterol but little saturated fat.

Even that study suggested that there was no risk increase when people ate less than 3 eggs per week.

This actually fits into the recommendations of a Mediterranean diet, where red meat that usually contains more saturated fat is recommended to be limited and eggs are eaten only occasionally throughout the week.    

Mediterranean Diet Egg Recipes

If you want to include eggs in your Mediterranean diet, then try out these delicious and healthy Mediterranean-style meals.

Eggplant Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a classic North African and Middle Eastern dish. It poaches the eggs in a tomatoey sauce combined with a bunch of vegetables and spices. It makes for a hearty dish you can put together on a whim. 

Spanish Potato Salad

Also called Ensalada Rusa, the boiled eggs in this salad pair nicely with the potatoes and are coated with a sherry vinaigrette and mayonnaise. Perfect for when you need a substantial lunch that’s full of healthy ingredients.  

Mediterranean Breakfast Bowl

This breakfast bowl has some boiled eggs accompanied by spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms and Greek yogurt, coated in warm and earthy za’atar spices. It’s ready in 15 minutes and an excellent way to get those veggies in.

To Sum Up

Eggs are classified within the Mediterranean diet as the same as dairy, and can be eaten occasionally throughout the week.

They are a nutritionally exceptional food, containing lots of different vitamins and minerals. There are also many studies backing their health benefits.

There have been concerns about their cholesterol levels and these effects on heart disease but studies generally find this isn’t a problem.