For the last decade or so, eggs have been on a bit of a nutritional rollercoaster ride. One day they are good for you, the next they’re saying they are contributing to heart disease, and the next they’re back to being “the perfect protein”. The question remains: Are eggs good for you or not? We’re here to hopefully clear up a bit of that confusion.
Eggs, Cholesterol, And Your Health
Eggs are likely one of the most highly-consumed proteins in the world. After all, they’re a breakfast staple in many countries and are included in hundreds of dishes from cultures around the world. On top of that, you’ll find them in most baked goods like cakes, cookies, brownies, and more. Despite their popularity, they’ve been up and down in the court of opinion when it comes to their health status. This has primarily been because of cholesterol. Let’s dive into whether or not the cholesterol in eggs is good, bad, or somewhere in between.
Is The Cholesterol In Eggs Bad For You?
For a long time, eggs were considered a healthy food. Then, as heart disease edged its way into being the leading cause of death around the world, eggs started to get a bad rap. This is because eggs, particularly egg yolks, contain cholesterol. For many years, health professionals began to believe that eating eggs were contributing to this problem, particularly raising the risk for those who already had high cholesterol. (1, 2)
For this reason, many health authorities and nutrition experts began suggesting limits to the number of eggs consumed in a typical day or week. Since then, however, more research has come out that questions whether or not the cholesterol in eggs is so bad. Recent studies have shown that perhaps eating eggs doesn’t increase the risk factors for heart disease. These include things such as inflammation, hardening of the arteries, and high levels of cholesterol. (3, 4)
In fact, some studies show that eating eggs lowers levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, whereas it increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol. (5) Still, results have been mixed, with other studies showing that, regardless, eggs raise cholesterol levels and therefore chronic disease and death. (6)
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Is It Eggs Or Is It Something Else?
There have been studies that suggest that perhaps the negative effects of eating eggs are more related to other high-fat, high-cholesterol foods consumed along with them. For example, processed foods, fried foods, cheese, and even yogurt. (6) In general, experts agree that more human studies need to be done in order to truly understand the cholesterol in eggs and whether or not it is good for human health. For the moment, they generally agree that eggs don’t produce a strong threat to health, particularly for those who have no cholesterol and heart disease problems already. For those that do, then being more cautious is always better.
How Many Eggs Should You Eat A Day?
As already mentioned, the number of eggs you should or should not eat in a day is a highly individual amount. This is dependent on your family and genetics, how you prepare your eggs, your overall diet, and even where you live, as the eggs may be different in their nutritional value. (7, 8) Some studies show that for healthy individuals, one to two eggs per day is safe and healthy. (9) Others suggest eating two to seven per week has a protective effect whereas eating two per day does not. (10) Generally, it appears that health status, age, race, and many, many other factors come into play when determining if eggs are a healthy food choice for you.
Nutritional Benefits of Eggs
Eggs, truthfully, have quite a high nutritional value, despite the cholesterol controversy. Egg whites are a great source of protein. For this reason, some people choose not to eat egg yolks and instead only eat the white part. That being said, when you take out the yolks, you remove a lot of the nutritional value. Egg yolks are one of the few food sources of vitamin D.
They’re also full of iron, carotenoids, and so much more. It’s these ingredients in the yolks that are said to bring about their anti-inflammatory values, improved HDL cholesterol levels, and improved overall health. (11, 12) Most experts agree that if you are a healthy individual, there isn’t much benefit by not eating egg yolks. (13) For those that do have cholesterol problems or related struggles, reducing egg yolk consumption could be beneficial.
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- “The Golden Egg: Nutritional Value, Bioactivities, and Emerging Benefits for Human Health.” PubMed. Sophie Réhault-Godbert et al. March 22, 2019.
- ‘Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).” Who. June 11, 2021.
- “Association between egg consumption and arterial stiffness: a longitudinal study.” PubMed. Naiwen Ji,et al. July 2021.
- “The effect of egg consumption on cardiometabolic health outcomes: an umbrella review.” PubMed. Eunice Mah, et al. October 19,2019.
- “Intake of 3 Eggs per Day When Compared to a Choline Bitartrate Supplement, Downregulates Cholesterol Synthesis without Changing the LDL/HDL Ratio.” PubMed. Bruno S. Lemos, et al. February 24, 2018.
- “Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality.” PubMed. Zhong VW, et al. March 19, 2019.
- “Nutritional Viewpoints on Eggs and Cholesterol.” PubMed. Michihiro Sugano and Ryosuke Matsuoka. February 25, 2021.
- “Genetic susceptibility, dietary cholesterol intake, and plasma cholesterol levels in a Chinese population.” PubMed. Shaofeng Huo et al. November 2020.
- “Association of egg intake with blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in 177,000 people in 50 countries.” PubMed. Mahshid Dehghan, et al. April 2020.
- “Association between Egg Consumption and Metabolic Disease.” PubMed Seon-Joo Park, et al. April 2018.
- “Whole egg consumption increases plasma choline and betaine without affecting TMAO levels or gut microbiome in overweight postmenopausal women.” PubMed. Chenghao Zhu, et al. June 2020.
- “Whole Egg Vs. Egg White Ingestion During 12 weeks of Resistance Training in Trained Young Males: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” PubMed. Reza Bagheri, et al. February 20221.
- “Goodbye to the egg-white omelet-welcome back to the whole-egg omelet.” PubMed. Arne Astrup. June 2018.