Egg-celent for our health or a big no no??
Apologies for the terrible pun 😀
Are eggs healthy? Yes
Do eggs contain cholesterol. Yes, dietary cholesterol.
Does this directly increase blood cholesterol? No.
A cause of cardiovascular disease? In healthy individuals, No, in diabetic individuals however, there appears to be some connection that is not very clear at this moment in time between diabetics and egg consumption. It isn’t quite clear which populations may be at higher risk due to further research being needed.
I’m sure you’ve heard at least one person in your lifetime tell you that whole eggs are bad for you, they raise your cholesterol and you should only eat the whites. Or you shouldn’t eat more than 3 eggs per week. Not per day. Per week !! My cholesterol must be sky high if this is the case.
Let me try to break this myth down.
First of all, egg yolks do contain dietary cholesterol. Along with all of the fat-soluble elements, including the heart -healthy omega-3 fatty acids and the vitamins A, D and E.
The yolk holds 90% of the iron, phosphorus, calcium, zinc, thiamin, B6, B12, folate and pantothenic acid of the whole egg. Other nutrients the yolk consists of are choline, lutein and zeaxanthin – don’t worry if you can’t pronounce them just know they are beneficial 😀 (See all nutrients explained at the end)
In each egg yolk there are approx. 54kcals and 6g of fat. So as healthy as they may be, we must remember eggs do still contain calories.
This is where some people who are strict on their macronutrients (protein, fats, carbs) intake will keep an eye on the fat content, for example, maybe have 3 eggs but leave 1 egg yolk out, so they still get the protein value, but drop that extra 6g of fat if it doesn’t fit their daily food intake.
The albumin or the egg white is where most of the protein is found, along with water and some B vitamins.
All in all, you can see for yourself that those who leave out the egg yolk or eggs as a whole are missing out on some great nutrients!
What is cholesterol?
A lipid i.e. it is fat-based and needs something to carry it around the blood stream as it’s not soluble in water. The bloodstream is water-based. This is where the problem arises.
The body has transport proteins that carry these lipid-based substances (e.g. cholesterol) around the bloodstream.
You may have heard of High Density Lipoproteins (HDL), Low Density Lipoproteins (LDL) and Very Low Density Lipoproteins (VLDL) – these are the three main transport proteins I’m talking about.
When someone says they have high cholesterol, what that means is that they have too many LDLs or VLDLs (bad) in comparison to HDLs (good) Aka Too much of the “bad stuff” and not enough of the “good stuff”.
Is cholesterol bad for you?
In each cell membrane, cholesterol is present on the outer layer and is a requirement for growth as well as producing many hormones.
How do we know eggs don’t increase our blood cholesterol?
Well, there are so many research studies on this topic therefore there is lots of back up. Hundreds of thousands of people have had their diet researched to be sure of the findings.
These studies have suggested that eating eggs every day is not associated with heart disease or cholesterol problems in healthy individuals. I say healthy individuals as it has been found that those who suffer from diabetes or rare conditions such as familial hypercholesterolemia have to be more careful when consuming eggs as mentioned above.
In one controlled trial, it was found that those on a weight loss diet who were instructed to eat 2 eggs per day actually lost weight whilst decreasing inflammation and either maintained or improved their cholesterol!!
These participants were eating 555mg of cholesterol from eggs alone every day, but this does not translate to blood cholesterol levels, so relax!
It was found that people who both reduced calorie intake and ate 2 eggs daily lost more weight (weight loss and fat loss) than people who just reduced their calorie intake.
So, unless you eat a diet high in sugar, carbs and fat (either from eggs or another high fat/cholesterol food), then disease risks are not increased.
The bottom line is that unless you suffer from Diabetes or another rare genetic disorder, you are more than encouraged to include eggs in your diet without worrying about your cholesterol levels, so get scrambling, boiling, poaching and frying! 😀
Micronutrients in eggs & their benefits:
Iron is an essential mineral that’s necessary for the transport of and for oxidation by cells.
Phosphorus is important for the formation of bones and teeth. It also plays an important role in how the body uses carbs and fats as well as being needed by the body to make protein.
Calcium Helps to form and maintain healthy bones and teeth, therefore helping to prevent osteoporosis.
Zinc It is needed for the body’s immune system to work properly. Zinc also helps in the breakdown of carbs in the diet.
Thiamine (Vit B1) Helps the cells of the body change carbs into energy.
B6 Helps with converting food into energy and helping the body to metabolize fats and proteins. B6 helps to keep healthy skin, liver, hair and eyes.
B12 Has many benefits including converting carbs to glucose in the body, helps regulate the nervous system, maintains a healthy digestive system, protects against heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Folate For women, folate helps create healthy foetuses, and helping prevent cervical cancer and reducing osteoporosis. For both genders, folate like other minerals and vitamins helps fight heart disease.
Pantothenic acid Pantothenic acid is important for our bodies to properly use carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids and for healthy skin.
Choline is essential for cardiovascular and brain function. Eating more of it may mean less inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers, and more.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the major antioxidants in eggs. They protect the eyes by filtering harmful light wavelengths.
Ohman M, Akerfeldt T, Nilsson I, Rosen C, Hansson LO, Carlsson M, Larsson A. Biochemical effects of consumption of eggs containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Ups J Med Sci. 2008;113(3):315-23.
Vander Wal JS, Gupta A, Khosla P, Dhurandhar NV. Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Oct;32(10):1545-51. Epub 2008 Aug 5.
Goodrow EF, et al. Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr. (2006)
Qureshi AI, et al. Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Med Sci Monit. (2007)