How many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol, and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?
Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, here’s some really good news. All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!
First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.
Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.
Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics: two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two thirds of the population. (1)
But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption. Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.
But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in people who eat eggs got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.
In addition, other health benefits of eggs are:
- Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of the lutein and zeaxanthin levels the eggs contain
- Provides high quality protein and essential amino acids
- Contain Vitamin D
- Possible breast cancer prevention – In one study, 6 eggs/week reduced risk by 44%
- Healthy hair and nail due to high sulphur content
So, release the guilt – go ahead and eat your eggs – there’s no need to worry!
To the Best of Health,
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.