Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein, which means that eggs contain all of the essential amino acids we need for good health. Eggs are also one of the most economical sources of animal protein and are good sources of riboflavin, B12, phosphorus and selenium.

Along with all these healthy nutrients, one large egg contains 212 mg cholesterol and 2 gm saturated fat that can contribute to heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting cholesterol to no more than 300 mg per day for people with normal blood cholesterol levels, and no more than 200 mg cholesterol per day for people who take cholesterol-lowering medication or have diabetes. The yolk contains all of the cholesterol and saturated fat, which is why many health professionals recommend using egg whites instead of whole eggs.

Recent research presented at the Experimental Biology conference in Boston, MA, looked at egg consumption in women participating in federally funded nutrition programs. The researchers divided eggs into four categories: whole eggs alone (such as a hard-boiled egg), egg whites alone (such as scrambled egg whites), visual egg (where eggs are part of a larger food item like an egg sandwich), and hidden egg sources (such as eggs contained in pudding). Whole eggs alone are the most economical, and prices are considerably higher for foods that contain visual and hidden egg sources.

Save money and improve your family's overall nutrition by cooking eggs yourself at home. Reduce risk of heart disease by using fewer egg yolks and more egg whites.

Try these healthy and delicious ideas for eggs at breakfast or any time of the day:

Cookie-cutter 'toad in the hole' makes a fun breakfast or snack for your kids. Use a cookie cutter to cut out a shape in the center of a slice of 100% whole grain bread. Toast one side of the bread over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Flip the bread over, and break one egg into the hole in the center of the bread. Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the egg is cooked.

Wrap scrambled eggs into a whole wheat tortilla for a quick breakfast. Add chopped tomato, avocado or spinach to the wrap for more flavor and nutrition.

Make a quick and healthy egg sandwich in your microwave. Put a slice of Canadian bacon on the bottom of an 8-oz custard cup. Pour 2 beaten egg whites over the Canadian bacon. Microwave on high for 30 seconds; stir. Microwave on high for an additional 15-30 seconds. Top with reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve on a toasted 100% whole wheat English muffin.

Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT is a health, food and fitness coach in Manchester and online at www.LynnGrieger.com. She thanks her son Duncan for teaching her how to microwave scrambled eggs.