Eggs and cholesterol

Eggs are part of a healthy diet. Eggs, especially the kind that come from hens raised on pasture and fed with omega-3 grains, can reduce blood triglycerides and increase HDL – the good cholesterol (see here, here and here). Most healthy people can eat one or two eggs a day without increasing their risk of heart disease.

Your body needs cholesterol for healthy cell and brain function. You can’t live without cholesterol. Egg yolks contain cholesterol however; eating them has very little or no effect on the cholesterol levels in your blood.

It’s your liver that produces blood cholesterol. If you eat too many eggs, then your liver compensates and doesn’t produce as much cholesterol. This is good news. Your blood cholesterol can level itself out. But be cautious. Your liver may be smart, but that doesn’t mean you can overindulge in eggs. All foods, including eggs, should be eaten in moderation.

Being cautious with eggs

If you are at risk of a disease or have diabetes, heart disease or hyperlipidaemia, then you may need to reduce or eliminate eggs from your diet. Some people eat only egg whites because they’re very low in cholesterol.

If you eat eggs and their yolk, be mindful of two things: (1) how you prepare them and (2) the foods or trimmings that accompany your eggs.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that no more than 5 to 6 percent of your calories should come from saturated fat. So, if you want to lower or control your LDL (the bad cholesterol), the best way to prepare eggs is to boil, poach or scramble them in a grease-free and non-stick pan. Don’t fry them in oil.

If you’re healthy, the AHA recommends a maximum of 300 mg a day of cholesterol. If you have elevated blood cholesterol or heart disease, then 200 mg is the limit. Think about your own nutritional needs. Think about your health and think about the amount of eggs that is right for you.

One large egg yolk has 186 mg of cholesterol; a jumbo yolk has 234 mg. For healthy cholesterol levels, have your eggs without the greasy bacon, sausages or fried potatoes.

My husband John has to watch his cholesterol and he continues to enjoy his soft-boiled eggs without the greasy trimmings. He has them with whole-grain toast, fruit salad or tomatoes or even with salsa on the side. Eggs are naturally filling. You don’t need the  bacon strips or sausages with your eggs to feel satiated.

Health benefits of eggs

Eggs are nature’s perfect food and they’re very good for you when eaten the right way. They’re especially good for your brain. As you age, your body’s natural choline weakens. Egg yolks are high in choline – a nutrient that nourishes brain cells and improves memory. Eggs also contain Vitamin B12, lecithin and essential fatty acids that protect against Alzheimer’s.

Eggs are high in Lutein and Zeaxanthine – rich antioxidants that reduce your risk of eye diseases. They also contain Vitamin A, folate, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and Vitamins B2, B5, B6, E and K. They’re a good source of animal protein as well as Vitamin D and calcium, which are all important for muscle mass and bone health.

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Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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