A question many people often ask is just how bad is eating eggs for eleveating cholesterol and overall health? There seems to be a common misconception that consuming eggs is a primary reason why people have high cholesterol and, in turn, health problems.
The fact is, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but the overall effect of egg consumption on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared with the effect of trans-fats and saturated fats. And egg whites contain no cholesterol.
The fact is, most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week, or about one per day, with no increase in their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption may actually prevent some types of strokes (1). Findings in this verified study suggest that consumption of up to 1 egg per day is unlikely to have substantial overall impact on the risk of high cholesterol or stroke among healthy men and women.
The Facts about Eggs and Cholesterol
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg has about 186 mg milligrams (mg) of cholesterol — all of which is found in the yolk (2).
When deciding whether to include eggs in your diet, consider the recommended daily limits on cholesterol in your food:
- If you are healthy, consume no more than 300 mg of cholesterol a day.
- If you have diabetes, high cholesterol or heart disease, limit the daily cholesterol intake to no more than 200 mg a day.
How to Avoid Cholesterol and Still Enjoy Eggs
If you enjoy eating eggs but don’t want to elevate your cholesterol levels, use only the egg whites. Egg whites contain no cholesterol. You may also use cholesterol-free egg substitutes, which are made with just the egg whites.
The same is true for people with diabetes. In the Nurses’ Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs, and more specifically egg yolks, a day (6). For those people who have diabetes and heart disease, it is best to limit egg yolk consumption to no more than three yolks per week (5).
The Effects of Cholesterol on the Human Body
A solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet (7).( Read our article, These 10 Tips to Balance Cholesterol Could Save Your Life)
Research has proven that blood cholesterol level has a lot to do with your chances of getting cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease. High blood cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Therefore, eating too many egg yolks, which contain high levels of cholesterol, is a definite risk factor. A risk factor is a condition that increases your chance of getting a disease. In fact, the higher your blood cholesterol level, the greater your risk for developing heart disease or having a heart attack. Heart disease is the number one killer of women and men in the United States. Each year, more than a million Americans have heart attacks, and about a half million people die from heart disease (8).
High blood cholesterol itself does not cause symptoms, so many people are unaware that their cholesterol level is too high. It is important to find out what your cholesterol numbers are because lowering cholesterol levels that are too high lessens the risk for developing heart disease and reduces the chance of a heart attack or dying of heart disease, even if you already have it. Cholesterol lowering is important for everyone – young, middle age, and older adults; women and men; and people with or without heart disease (9).