Do Eggs Raise Cholesterol?
Eggs have got a bad rap over the years, mainly due to the fact that they contain cholesterol.
Cholesterol is vital for the body - it's a crucial part of cell membranes and is used to form hormones (such as testosterone), vitamins and bile (which helps digest fats).
However, high blood cholesterol can be very serious. In simple terms, when cholesterol builds up in blood vessels, blood is less able to travel through the vessels, meaning an increased risk of developing cardio-vascular disease (CVD), and increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The fear was that eating eggs, particularly egg yolks, which contain cholesterol, would raise blood cholesterol.
The logic is flawed, and studies that associated eggs with health problems were also flawed (cholesterol was lumped in with other unhealthy substances such as trans fats, found in highly processed foods).
The confusion comes from a misunderstanding of terminology.
Cholesterol is carried around the body by Lipoproteins.
Low Denisty Lipoproteins (LDL) are sometimes mistakenly termed 'bad cholesterol'. More accurately, they are 'bad' carriers of cholesterol, since they can often dump cholesterol into the sides of arteries, causing the blockages that lead to health problems.
Conversely, High Density Lipoproteins are sometimes mistakenly called 'good cholesterol'. Again, they are in fact 'good' carriers of cholesterol, since they collect the cholesterol around the bloodstream, and take it back to the liver.
In one study of overweight men, 3 eggs per day had benefits for cardiovascular risk markers (i.e. more HDL, no change in LDL) compared with 0, 1 or 2 eggs per day.
What we now know is that the body has a 'negative feedback loop' for cholesterol. This means that the more cholesterol you consume from the diet, the less the body produces.
Likewise, the less you consume from the diet, the more the body produces.
This ensures that cholesterol is kept to consistent levels, and is a perfect example of the body's natural homeostasis (self-stabilisation).
So eating eggs won't raise your blood cholesterol.
Not to mention that eggs also have a huge amount of micronutrients, including choline, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12, and are high in protein.
As with any food, the calorie content must be taken into account, and must fit into your daily requirements.
However, the bottom line is - unless you have a very rare pre-existing genetic disorder called 'Familial Hypercholesterolemia' - eat your eggs.