If you are an egg lover, you are probably concerned: do eggs increase cholesterol levels? Are they good for you? I want to show you some facts and share my experience and insights with you. I am not a medical professional but have a life-long passion for nutrition. You can find various studies and sources cited in my articles.
Do Eggs Increase Cholesterol Levels or Not?
Eggs have a bad reputation for increasing cholesterol levels. I still remember the time when doctors and nutritionists recommended cutting down on eggs or refrain from eating them completely to people who suffered from heart diseases.
And even though there has been more research on the eggs since that time, you might still be a bit afraid of eating eggs daily or having more of one egg in one meal because they think that they have too much cholesterol.
But the more cholesterol you eat, the less the body produces.
So eating eggs won’t just raise your cholesterol levels.
Eggs Are Very Rich In Nutrients
Eggs are among the most nutritious foods you can find. The protein contained in eggs is easily absorbable. That’s why dried egg whites have been sold as a valuable source of protein.
Your Body Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol plays an important role in your body. It is a lipid (fat) used by our bodies to make vitamin D and digestive juices that help break down fat contained in food.
It is also used to produce steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.
Cholesterol is either produced by your liver or consumed in food.
The more cholesterol you consume in cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, the less your liver produces.
The good and the bad cholesterol
What is actually cholesterol? It is a lipid (fat) used by our bodies to produce hormones, vitamin D, and digestive juices that help break down fat contained in food. lipoprotein HDL, known as “the good cholesterol,” is high-density lipoprotein, and LDL, “the bad cholesterol,” is low-density lipoprotein.
Our bodies need some cholesterol, but when the levels get too high, fatty deposits can accumulate in blood vessels, which causes them to narrow. This narrowing of the blood passageways can cause many serious diseases and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, or coronary artery disease.
What does the HDL and LDL cholesterols do?
Your total cholesterol is made up of the HLD cholesterol and LDL cholesterol together.
- HDL cholesterol may protect the body against narrowing blood vessels
- LDL cholesterol may make arterial narrowing worse
That’s why doctors interpret the levels of cholesterol based on which one of these two is high/low.
We should always be concerned about the bad cholesterol, LDL.
What are the documented causes of high LDL-cholesterol?
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Liver disease
- High-fat diet
However, a high-fat diet on its own, if not accompanied by high carb consumption, does not cause high LDL cholesterol as shown in the case of a 88 old man consuming 25 eggs a day because adding that many eggs to his diet (he consumed boiled eggs during the day in addition to his other meals) increased his daily fat consumption by 125 grams!
The recommended daily fat intake is between 44 grams to 77 grams per day.
Eggs And Cholesterol
There are several studies that have examined the effects of eggs on cholesterol levels.
A randomized study for 12 weeks shows that increased two eggs a day do not increase total plasma or LDL cholesterol when accompanied by moderate weight loss. That means that cholesterol-rich foods should not be excluded from your diet.
Another study with overweight or obese men aged 40 to 70, divided into two groups whereas one group ate 3 eggs per day shows that not only did the eggs not raise the total cholesterol levels but the HDL cholesterol increased by 10%.
Nevertheless, the subjects of the study were on a carbohydrate-restricted diet. So it is not about eating a high energy and high carb diet and adding a few eggs to it.
Most of the studies have only research intake of up to three eggs a day. So you could think eating more of them might negatively impact your health. But it is unsure.
One study documented an 88-year-old man who consumed 25 eggs per day (Imagine that!) He had normal cholesterol levels and his overall health was good.
The cholesterol contained in foods is only one of several factors influencing cholesterol levels. Saturated fatty acids, trans-fatty acids, soluble fiber, and total caloric intake are other important factors. If you want to have good cholesterol levels, all of these factors must be taken into consideration and worked on. It is a matter of a lifetime of a healthy diet.
It is important to emphasize that the way you prepare the eggs for consumption matters the same as the foods you eat eggs with. It certainly makes a difference if you have fried eggs with bacon and add french fries to it. Everything matters.
Nevertheless, there is no need to worry about consuming a few eggs every day. It is actually the carbs you should worry about as they can turn to fat if you eat more of them than your body consumes for energy.
I remember watching an episode of What’s good for you? that was about eggs. What’s good for you is an award-winning Australian health and lifestyle television program that investigates myths and fables concerning health and well being. In one episode the authors put the myth that eggs are bad for you to the test and made a group of people eat a very high amount of eggs a day for a certain amount of time. I can’t remember how many eggs there were but I’m sure it was more than 7 as I think neither I nor my partner could eat so many eggs a day.
They measured the cholesterol levels of the participants before and after and there was no increase!
I do not suggest that you should eat so many eggs a day. I just think you should not worry whether you eat one, two, or five eggs a day if you don’t have any health problems and do love eggs.
If you still can’t stop worrying about the cholesterol contained in eggs, you can consume egg whites only as they are completely cholesterol-free.
Are all eggs the same?
Not all eggs are the same. Most eggs you find in a supermarket come from factory-raised chickens that are fed with grains.
According to Kris Gunnars, BSc. from the healthline team, “The healthiest eggs are omega-3-enriched eggs or eggs from hens that are raised on pasture. These eggs are much higher in omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins.”
What Is My Diet Like?
Now if you are asking what is my diet like and how many eggs a day I consume, I can tell you that it varies but I do not worry if I consume several eggs a day. On some days I have none and but last holiday I had a few fried eggs with a vegetable salad for lunch for a few days in a row. And I felt great.
I love boiled eggs with steamed vegetables, fried eggs with fresh tomatoes or scrambled eggs with a vegetable salad.
It is also one of my favorite three foods or snacks before bed.
It Matters What You Eat Your Eggs With
However, I never eat the eggs with bread, potato chips, or any other refined carbs. Your body needs different enzymes to digest high-carbohydrate foods and high-protein foods. I’m a strong believer in a simplistic approach.
I found out it is a good thing, confirmed by Harvard Medical School:
“Of course, it matters greatly what you eat with your eggs. The saturated fat in butter, cheese, bacon, sausage, muffins, or scones, for example, raises your blood cholesterol much more than the cholesterol in your egg. And the highly refined “bad carbs” in white toast, pastries, home fries, and hash browns may also increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.”
When I have eggs, all I add to it is vegetables. Steamed, boiled, fried or fresh, one sort or all mixed together, but nothing else. And I never feel bloated, stuffed or uncomfortable in any other way. It makes me feel satiated and not tired, at the same time.
If I had eggs with potatoes, french fries, or bread for lunch, I would be sleepy after that. I’ve experienced it many times. The combination of proteins and carbs does need a lot of energy to be processed so your brain feels dull for a while. It is also easy to consume more energy than you really need and store it in form of fat then.
But let’s get back to our topic. Are eggs good for us? All the studies I have found, the TV show I mentioned, and my personal experience show that eggs are very good for us and do not increase cholesterol levels if they are not consumed as a part of a high-carb and high-energy diet.
In other words, if you don’t overeat and have a few eggs for lunch every day accompanied by vegetables and if you don’t eat excessive amounts of bread, potatoes, and rice, let alone sugary foods like cookies, chocolate, and cakes, you have nothing to worry about.
So let me sum it up. Do eggs increase cholesterol levels? Based on the research, they don’t. As a part of a healthy diet, they are one of the best foods you can have.
Do you like eggs? How many of them do you eat per day?