Monday, August 24, 2015

Eggs are very high in cholesterol - does that make them bad?

           It has long been assumed and accepted that dietary cholesterol may have a negative impact on cardiovascular health, and that consuming high levels of cholesterol may lead to an increased risk of coronary artery disease.  Today however, several studies have found that the correlation between dietary cholesterol consumption and an increased risk for coronary artery disease is trivial at best1,2.  Although increased cholesterol consumption has been found to minimally increase serum LDL levels, there seem to be no adverse cardiovascular effects, especially in healthy individuals with healthy, variable diets2
          Eggs are higher in dietary cholesterol than any other individual food item in the American diet, one egg yolk containing between 50 to 250g of cholesterol alone2!  It is largely for this reason that it has often been advised that egg consumption should be limited, due to the assumed correlation between cholesterol and coronary artery disease.  In reality, eggs are a great source of a number of micro- and macronutrients that have excellent health benefits2.  Research also suggests that egg consumption may have an impact on facilitating weight loss, since they make you feel full longer2.   
            An interesting side note to take into account is that approximately 15-25% of the population is “hyper-responders” to cholesterol ingested through the diet1.  One study found that in these individuals, LDL and HDL levels did significantly increase after ingestion of large amounts of dietary cholesterol (after the equivalent of approximately 3.5 eggs per day)1.  However, the ratio of LDL to HDL in these individuals remained unchanged1.  Interestingly enough, this was the only population to be found to experience a significant increase in LDL and HDL levels after consuming large amounts of dietary cholesterol.  Even individuals with hypercholesterolemia demonstrated no significant changes in LDL and HDL levels, even when adding up to seven eggs per week to their diets1
            So what does this all mean for us? Because egg consumption only results in a very small increase in serum levels of cholesterol in the general population, there is no evidence that suggests that there is an increased risk for cardiovascular disease associated with egg consumtion1.  In healthy individuals, there is no reason to exclude or limit egg consumtion1.  It is advised that, in order to decrease risk for cardiovascular disease, individuals should consume a diet rich in a variety of different foods containing a number of different micro- and macronutrients, and limit their intake of foods high in simple sugars and saturated fats1


1. Natoli, S., Markovic, T., Lim, D., Noakes, M., Kostner, K.  Unscrambling the research: Eggs, serum cholesterol and coronary heart disease.  Nutrition and Dietetics. 2007; 64: 105-111. 

2. Lee, A. and Griffin, B. Dietary cholesterol, eggs, and coronary heart disease risk in perspective.  British Nutrition Foundation.  2006; 31: 21-27. 

3.  Fleming, Alesha.  Natural Health and Wellness Chiropractic., Daytona Beach, FL, 2015.

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