Eggs are one of nature’s most efficient foods. For just 70 calories, you get protein, a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and just 5 mg of fat. It’s true that eggs contain cholesterol, but for people who do not have high cholesterol, eating fried eggs a couple times a week isn’t a problem. Frying eggs in olive oil instead of butter is a good way to limit your cholesterol and get a dose of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
Frying an egg in olive oil is no different than using butter, margarine or other fats. The key to adding as little additional fat as possible to your fried eggs is to limit the amount of oil in the pan. This can be done in a variety of ways. When using a non-stick saute pan, pour a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel and wipe the inner surface of the pan with the oiled towel. A spritzer bottle can also help you control oil usage — use one or two “pumps” only. If you have no alternative to pouring olive oil into the pan, add just enough to cover the pan’s surface when swirled around.
Cooking Time and Temperature
Eggs fried in olive oil may be healthier for your heart than a butter-laden breakfast, but if they are not “well done” enough, they still carry the risk of foodborne illness. Fry your eggs in an open pan for four to six minutes, flipping them once. Eggs cook more quickly in a covered pan and are generally done in just four minutes. Insert a food thermometer into the thickest part of the egg. A reading of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is safe to eat. A quick indication of readiness in fried eggs is that the yolk becomes thickened.
If you’re used to cooking your eggs in butter, the flavor imparted by eggs fried in olive oil may be an acquired taste. Choose extra light olive oil to allow the flavor of the eggs shine through. Light or regular olive oil is fine to use, but just may give your food more of a Mediterranean, olive-y taste. Sprinkle your fried eggs with a variety of herbs to change the flavor, too. Rosemary, thyme and dill are all pungent herbs that don’t add sodium or fat to your dish.
Keep eggs fresh and safe to eat as long as possible by storing them correctly. Raw eggs can spoil if they are exposed to temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods. Place the egg carton in the coldest area of the refrigerator — not inside the door — for safe storage. Refrain from washing uncooked eggs. They don’t need the extra cleaning, and the water can actually remove a coating from the shell that protects against bacteria.
References and ResourcesAmerican Heart Association: Fats and Oils: AHA Recommendation
American Heart Association: Healthier Preparation Methods for Cooking
Clemson Cooperative Extension: Safe Handling of Eggs
MayoClinic.com: Eggs: Are They Good or Bad for My Cholesterol?
Georgia Egg Commission: Nutrition