Cholesterol in eggs
Cholesterol in eggs is a subject that was researched for a long while and only now after we’ve got enough data can be properly described. The relationship between cholesterol in eggs and the cholesterol level in the body is complicated. Understanding how cholesterol works and how it relates to egg consumption can help a person follow a healthy diet.
This article reviews the growing body of evidence to suggest that eggs are, in fact, healthy to include in the diet and do not increase cholesterol for most people.
It also examines the level of cholesterol in eggs and presents some egg alternatives to consider.
What is cholesterol, and is it bad?
The liver naturally produces cholesterol. It’s a fatty compound in every cell, and the body needs it to stay healthy.
The body needs cholesterol for several processes. It is a structural molecule in cell membranes and the body needs it to produce digestive bile, vitamin D, and sex hormones such as estrogens and testosterone.
The liver manufactures a sufficient amount of cholesterol to satisfy the body’s demands. However, a person may also consume cholesterol in their diet. If someone eats foods high in cholesterol, their liver responds by slowing down the production of cholesterol.
This balances cholesterol levels and keeps them constant, which means that so-called bad cholesterol foods, including eggs, usually have minimal effect on blood cholesterol levels.
However, this waxy compound has a bad reputation due to its links to coronary heart disease and stroke. The story behind cholesterol and its effects on human health is complex, in part because there are different versions of this molecule that act differently in the body. These can lead to healthy or unhealthy effects when their levels change.
As part of normal body processes, molecules called lipoproteins to combine with cholesterol to transport it in the blood.
There are two general types of cholesterol, depending on the type of lipoprotein they are attached to. These are low-density lipoprotein LDL cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein HDL cholesterol.
LDL cholesterol in eggs
When people talk about the negative health effects of high cholesterol, they are often referring to total cholesterol levels and levels of so-called bad cholesterol commonly known as LDL cholesterol.
This is what people think of as the “bad” type of cholesterol.
If a person has too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, it can stick to the walls of blood vessels. Over time, this build-up of cholesterol can form plaques that narrow the arteries. This makes it harder for blood to flow, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
HDL cholesterol in eggs
People think of HDL cholesterol as “good cholesterol”. LDL cholesterol helps control bad cholesterol levels by transporting it to the liver, which recycles or removes it from the body.
Are eggs unhealthy?
A large group of researchers based on the results of scientific studies has suggested that the consumption of dietary cholesterol, for example by eating eggs, is not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research has suggested that elevated levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in the blood are associated with adverse health effects, including cardiovascular disease. However, some studies have indicated that eating eggs does not have a significant impact on cholesterol levels in most people.
In fact, some studies have found that while consuming eggs on a daily basis can lead to marginal increases in LDL cholesterol, it also increases HDL cholesterol. This means that the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL, an important predictor of heart disease, remains stable.
In the past, health professionals advised people to limit the number of eggs or egg yolks they ate to no more than three per week. The justification behind this reference was that egg yolks are high in cholesterol foods to avoid.
In the past academics misjudged the data and erroneously determined that dietary cholesterol in a straight line contributed to elevated blood cholesterol levels. Later researchers found this to be false.
Now, in light of recent evidence, health experts are changing their stances on eggs. In their 2015–2020 publication, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans removed the recommendation for people to limit their consumption of dietary cholesterol to under 300 milligrams (mg) per day.
A number of recent studies have confirmed that eating eggs as part of a healthy diet does not increase the risk of heart problems.
One of these researches observed 178,000 contributors in 50 nations worldwide. It found no significant associations between egg intake and cholesterol levels, death rates, or major cardiovascular disease events. The study also found no significant link between how many eggs someone ate and their cholesterol levels.
A 2019 study published in the journal Circulation found that eating eggs was not associated with ischemic heart disease. In addition, the researchers found that replacing red and processed meats with fish, dairy, or eggs was associated with a 20% lower risk of ischemic heart disease.
The American Heart Association (AHA) published scientific advice in 2020 that concluded that healthy people could safely eat a whole egg daily. They also approved two eggs a day for healthy older adults due to the general nutritional benefits and the convenience of the eggs.
There is a lack of information on the high consumption of eggs, as research tends to focus on the consumption of one or two eggs a day.
However, a case study reported that an 88-year-old man ate 25 eggs a day and the cholesterol levels in his bloodstream were within normal limits and he was in good health. Remember that these findings do not demonstrate that eating a large number of eggs a day is healthy for everyone.
About 25% of people are hyper-reagents or non-compensators. These people have bodies that are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol, and the consumption of cholesterol-rich foods can significantly affect their blood cholesterol levels.
However, studies show that the ratio of LDL to HDL remains stable after taking cholesterol in hyper-reagents. This means that even though cholesterol levels may increase in response to dietary cholesterol in hyper-reagents, these changes are unlikely to increase the risk of heart disease.
Also, it’s important to note that while most people can enjoy cholesterol-rich foods, everyone is different. People with certain genetic mutations that affect their cholesterol levels may need to follow a low cholesterol diet to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels.
Overall, it appears that consumption of eggs is harmless for the majority of people. However, like all foods, people should consume eggs in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.
What is the amount of cholesterol in eggs?
The AHA states that one large egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol. An article in Nutrition
magazine expands that number by stating that eggs can contain 141–234 mg each.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies eggs by size. For example, Peewee eggs weigh around 425 grams per dozen while Jumbo eggs weigh around 850 grams per dozen. That’s around 35 g per Peewee egg and 70 g per Jumbo egg.
The USDA Food Data Central database states that 3.5 g (100 g) whole eggs contain 372 mg of cholesterol. The larger the egg, the more cholesterol it naturally contains.
The database also confirms that protein does not contain cholesterol. This means that people who don’t want to consume Cholesterol in eggs can still add protein to their diet.
Alternatives to eggs
Some people may want to replace eggs with substitutes in their cooking and baking, perhaps because they follow a vegan diet or have an allergy or intolerance to eggs.
The sections below will describe some alternatives.
Cholesterol-free egg substitutes
This commercial and processed preparation usually comes in cartons and looks like beaten eggs. For the reason that it usually contains egg whites, it is not appropriate for vegans.
These substitutes also tend to contain natural or artificial colors and flavors, as well as thickeners, such as xanthan and guar gum.
Cholesterol in eggs white
For non-vegans, egg whites can substitute for whole eggs. There are dry and commercial versions available, or people can use fresh egg whites after removing the yolk.
For vegans and those who prefer to use a homemade egg substitute, there are different options available.
For instance, you can use tofu in pies or “eggs omelets,” while bananas can be a great ingredient in sweets and baked products, and ground flax seeds can be used as a thickener instead of eggs.
Summary on cholesterol in eggs
Historically, people have wondered if the Cholesterol in eggs has unhealthy consequences.
However, a lot of recent research has suggested that a healthy diet can include eggs. For most people, eggs will have no impact on their blood cholesterol levels or overall health.
People who do not wish to include eggs in their diet can use a range of egg substitutes including egg whites alternates, whole egg replacements, and vegan options.