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.
Nov. 18, 2023
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