Are dyed Easter eggs safe to eat? Everything you need to know.

18 colorfully dyed Easter eggs in a carton.
Should you eat those dyed Easter eggs? (Getty Creative)

Eggs: Love them or loathe them, this somewhat controversial food has a big cultural impact. As Easter approaches, eggs become the focal point of various celebrations, from egg dyeing to traditional egg hunts (even if these eggs are often made of plastic). Yet while eggs may be everywhere this spring, not everyone is keen on consuming them, including this time of year. Whether you’re unsure about eggs being part of a healthy diet or just the safety of eating them after they’ve been dipped in vibrant dye, there are plenty of myths to dispel. With Easter arriving this Sunday, experts spoke to Yahoo Life about all things egg. Here’s what you need to know.

The idea that eggs have too much cholesterol has some people avoiding them for breakfast. But Kelli George, registered dietitian and director of the Didactic Program in Dietetics at West Virginia University, says, “Eat the eggs,” adding that cholesterol in general gets a bad rap. “Cholesterol is a type of fat that’s found in our bodies and in food, and it’s not all bad,” she tells Yahoo Life. “We need cholesterol — our body even makes it. Health problems only arise when we have too much cholesterol traveling in our blood, and that is most commonly due to lack of physical activity, eating a lot of saturated fat, which are found in foods like fatty cuts of meat, full-fat dairy and coconut oil, and eating a diet low in fiber.”

George says that the cholesterol found in eggs, or any food, has “almost no impact on the cholesterol traveling in our bloodstream.” Therefore she says it “doesn’t cause health-related issues like high blood cholesterol or heart disease.”

Not necessarily. Despite the common belief that you should limit your egg intake, the American Heart Association says suggests eating one egg every day (or two egg whites, because only the yolks contain cholesterol) for those who like eggs. George notes that just two eggs have about 14 grams of protein, which can keep you satiated, as well as “vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as choline, selenium, folate, phosphorous, vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin.”

One thing you should limit, however, is the amount of raw eggs you consume. For most people, this is not an issue — but if you do consume raw eggs, Kelli warns that you should “not eat one to two dozen raw eggs regularly, because that can cause a biotin deficiency.” That’s because raw eggs contain a protein called avidin, which binds with biotin and can interfere with the absorption of biotin in the digestive system.

But, in general, Kelli says that even people with heart disease can “absolutely” eat eggs, if they enjoy them.

Keith Warriner, professor of food science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, tells Yahoo Life that eggshells have more than 4,000 pores, meaning they readily take up paint. That’s why, if you are decorating your eggs at Easter, it’s best to “stick with food colorings that are safe.” Other paints, such as acrylic, contain solvents that can get into your hard-boiled eggs — and therefore into your body if you consume them.

If you want to be on the safest side, Warriner suggests using vegetable extracts to dye your eggs, noting that beetroot, for example, gives a purple color, albeit at a “lower intensity when compared with food coloring.”

Paint isn't the only thing you should be concerned about, Jason Tetro, microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, tells Yahoo Life. The process of dyeing eggs and leaving them out on display can also leave you vulnerable to foodborne illness. “Leaving hard-boiled eggs at room temperature for more than two hours can lead to bacterial growth,” he says. “This may not be enough time to dye all the eggs, so it’s best to rotate them in and out of the fridge.” Unfortunately, Tetro adds, “if you have dyed eggs out in the open for more than three hours, they may look beautiful, but they are no longer safe to eat.”

Dr. Kirsten Bechtel, professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, says that you can’t keep hard-boiled eggs as long as you could uncooked eggs — whether they are dyed or not. Hard-boiled eggs should be tossed after seven days in the refrigerator, assuming you’ve followed all previous food safety guidelines.