Eggs and Cholesterol, What’s the Verdict?

November 13, 2022 , ,

We need cholesterol to function. The body makes most of the cholesterol it needs, and the rest comes from food. Eggs are high in dietary cholesterol and contribute to about 25% of the cholesterol content in the United States. One large egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol is also found in seafood, fish, beef, pork, chicken, and dairy products, in short, in foods from animal sources.

Evidence from observational studies does not support a significant link between dietary cholesterol intake and risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The divergent results of the studies can be attributed to the fact that it is difficult to distinguish between the effects of cholesterol alone versus those of dietary routines that are high in cholesterol or saturated fats, e.g. eggs eaten with sausages or bacon. Data from intervention studies show a modest effect of dietary cholesterol consumption on CVD risk factors and LDL cholesterol concentrations. In general, the available evidence indicates that replacing saturated fat with unsaturated fat is expected to produce greater reductions in LDL cholesterol concentrations than reducing dietary cholesterol alone. Thus, it is more important to try to reduce your saturated fat intake rather than worrying about your egg consumption.

Knowing from experience that people really want a specific answer to the question, “How many eggs can I eat?”, here is the most accurate answer I found, from the American Heart Association’s most recent report on the subject:

  • Given the relatively high cholesterol content of egg yolks, it is still advisable to limit intake to one whole egg per day (seven per week). Patients with dyslipidemia, especially those who also have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of heart failure, should especially limit their intake of eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods.
  • Lacto-ovo-vegetarian people, since they do not consume other foods from animal sources containing cholesterol besides eggs and dairy, may include a greater amount of eggs in their diet.
  • For older adults with a normal lipid status, given the nutritional benefits and convenience of eggs, consuming up to 2 eggs per day is acceptable as part of a heart-healthy diet.

Conclusion

In conclusion, rather than worrying about your egg consumption reduce your saturated fat intake. SOSCuisine offers cardiovascular health meal plans based on the Mediterranean diet, which has long been recognized for its protective effects against CVD.

Sources

  1. Carson et al. (2020) Dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular risk: a science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation;141:e39–e53.

Author

Kathryn Adel
Kathryn completed degrees in kinesiology and nutrition, as well as a Masters in Sports Nutrition. She is a member of OPDQ and of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. She ran track and cross-country at a national level. Kathryn specializes in sports nutrition, weight loss, diabetes, as well as heart and gastrointestinal health. Kathryn is experienced with the low FODMAP diet and she completed the Monash University low FODMAP dietitian's training.

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