Here’s a pretty common question that keeps coming up: Is eating eggs healthy for you? This conversation came up in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when doctors and researchers showed that cholesterol had a link to cardiovascular disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes. But new research has shown that dietary cholesterol intake has very little to do with your risk factors for those chronic diseases.
Cholesterol and chronic diseases
The body produces cholesterol, but it is not the underlying culprit for all of these chronic issues. Inflammation is the real culprit, causing damage to blood vessels. The body uses cholesterol as a “paste” of sorts to try to protect itself from further damage.
There was a lot of interest in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s about dietary cholesterol intake, and, of course, eggs have a considerable amount of cholesterol, specifically in the yolks. But research in the last decade has clearly shown that the intake of eggs has virtually no increased risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and Alzheimer’s.
Are eggs healthy?
We know that eggs are a complete protein. They’re high in choline and lutein, both of which are great for eye health, nerve transmission, and cell signalling. One study showed that the intake of eggs on a daily basis had no effect on plasma cholesterol or blood cholesterol. Another study has shown that the daily intake of eggs has no effect on increasing risk factors for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Another study in Korea showed that the daily intake of eggs actually decreased the risk of metabolic syndrome.
One study done on a Mediterranean cohort showed that there were no changes in blood cholesterol or triglycerides. Another study has shown that the daily consumption of eggs actually improves the good HDL cholesterol to bad LDL cholesterol ratios.
Another cool study has shown that eating the whole egg, both the yolk and egg white, actually improves your body’s potential to increase muscle protein.
So, avoiding the yolks, which is higher in cholesterol, may diminish that effect.
We know that certain proteins (like red meat) increase the risk factors of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but studies have shown that eggs do not. They are a complete protein, and high in nutrients like choline and lutein.
Whilst eggs are healthy to eat, you should still try to limit it to one egg per day, seven per week.
If you suffer from high cholesterol, you may want to talk to a physician about limiting egg consumption a little more. But the research shows that consuming approximately one egg per day has no negative effect on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or Alzheimer’s.
Of course, it also depends on how you cook them. Boiling is a simple healthy way to cook and eat eggs. It doesn’t have all of the added fat when you fry an egg. Scrambled eggs are great too because you can include vegetables in the mix that have antioxidant effects. Just remember — eggs are healthy. Don’t be scared of them!
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We post each and every week to help with your health and wellness. I’m Dr. Ryan Shelton.