Are chicken eggs good or bad for my cholesterol?
Answer From Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Chicken eggs are an affordable source of protein and other nutrients. They're also naturally high in cholesterol. But the cholesterol in eggs doesn't seem to raise cholesterol levels the way some other foods, such as those high in trans fats and saturated fats, do.
Although some studies have found a link between eating eggs and heart disease, there could be other reasons for these findings. The foods people typically eat with eggs, such as bacon, sausage and ham, might do more to boost heart disease risk than eggs do. Plus, the way eggs and other foods are cooked — especially if fried in oil or butter — might play more of a role in the increased risk of heart disease than eggs themselves do.
Most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs a week without increasing their risk of heart disease. Some studies have shown that this level of egg consumption might even help prevent certain types of stroke and a serious eye condition called macular degeneration that can lead to blindness.
But if you have diabetes, some research suggests that eating seven eggs a week increases heart disease risk. However, other research failed to find the same connection. Still other research suggests that eating eggs might increase the risk of developing diabetes in the first place. More research is needed to figure out the link between eggs, diabetes and heart disease.
Health experts now suggest eating as little dietary cholesterol as you can, aiming to keep intake under 300 milligrams (mg) a day. One large egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol — all of which is found in the yolk. If your diet contains little other cholesterol, according to some studies, eating up to an egg a day might be an OK choice.
If you like eggs but don't want the cholesterol, use only the egg whites. Egg whites contain no cholesterol but still contain protein. You can also use cholesterol-free egg substitutes, which are made with egg whites.
Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D.
Jan. 21, 2022
From Mayo Clinic to your inbox
Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.
ErrorEmail field is required
ErrorInclude a valid email address
To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which
information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with
other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could
include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected
health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health
information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of
privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on
the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.
Thank you for subscribing
Our Housecall e-newsletter will keep you up-to-date on the latest health information.
Sorry something went wrong with your subscription
Please, try again in a couple of minutes
See more Expert Answers
- Xia PF, et al. Dietary intakes of eggs and cholesterol in relation to all-cause and heart disease mortality: A prospective cohort study. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2020; doi:10.1161/JAHA.119.015743.
- 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines. Accessed Nov. 4, 2021.
- Are eggs good for you or not? American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not. Accessed Oct. 30, 2021.
- Spence JD, et al. Cardiovascular harm from egg yolk and meat: More than just cholesterol and saturated fat. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2021; doi:10.1161/JAHA.120.017066.
- Blesso CN, et al. Dietary cholesterol, serum lipid, and heart disease: Are eggs working for or against you? Nutrients. 2018; doi:10.3390/nu10040426.
- Zhuang P, et al. Egg and cholesterol consumption and mortality from cardiovascular and different causes in the United States: A population-based cohort study. 2021; doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003508.