Are chicken eggs good or bad for my cholesterol?
Answers from Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Chicken eggs are high in cholesterol, but the effect of egg consumption on blood cholesterol is minimal when compared with the effect of trans fats and saturated fats.
The risk of heart disease may be more closely tied to the foods that accompany the eggs in a traditional American breakfast — such as the sodium in the bacon, sausages and ham, and the saturated fat or oils with trans fats used to fry the eggs and the hash browns.
Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week 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.
But the story is different for people who have diabetes. In this ever-growing population, eating seven eggs a week significantly increases the risk of heart disease.
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.
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.
If you like eggs but don't want the extra cholesterol, use only the egg whites. Egg whites contain no cholesterol. You may also use cholesterol-free egg substitutes, which are made with egg whites.
Dec. 05, 2014
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Your guide to lowering your cholesterol with TLC. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/chol_tlc.pdf. Accessed Nov. 18, 2014.
- Lopez-Jimenez F (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 11, 2014.
- Fernandez ML. Rethinking dietary cholesterol. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2012;15:117.
- Robbins JM, et al. Association of egg consumption and calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries: The NHLBI Family Heart Study. e-SPEN Journal. 2014;9:e131.
- Rong y, et al. Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: Dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. British Medical Journal. 2013;346:e8539.
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 26. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov. Accessed Nov. 5, 2014. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/118?qlookup=egg%2C+hard-boiled&fg=&format=&man=&lfacet=&max=25&new=1. Accessed Nov. 5, 2014.
- Heart and stroke encyclopedia: Eggs. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Encyclopedia/Heart-and-Stroke-Encyclopedia_UCM_445084_ContentIndex.jsp?levelSelected=5&title=eggs. Accessed Nov. 5, 2014.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Nov. 5, 2014.