Whether to have whole egg or egg yolk or not is a much-debated topic. How far is this true? Let's discuss this in detail and understand whether eating eggs impact blood cholesterol.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in food and is also produced by the liver. The body needs cholesterol for the cells to function normally and for the production of hormones, bile acids, vitamin D. However, too much cholesterol in the blood could lead to health problems. The liver synthesizes the cholesterol and also removes it, thus maintaining the balance. It converts the cholesterol to bile salts and transfers the compounds into bile, where they are excreted from the body1.
Alternatively, if an individual consumes foods high in cholesterol, the liver slows down the production of cholesterol. In this way, the liver balances the cholesterol levels and maintains homeostasis.
How much cholesterol is present in eggs?
The recommended limit for dietary cholesterol in a day is 300 mg. Eggs are an incredible source of protein and contain many other nutrients. However, a large piece of whole egg (50 grams) contains 183 mg of cholesterol, and all the cholesterol is in the egg yolk, while the egg white does not have any cholesterol.
So, should we discard the yolk and consume only the egg white instead?
Even though the egg yolk is high in cholesterol, it also contains essential nutrients that help strengthen bones, proper function of the thyroid gland, and maintain healthy skin and hair. For example, egg yolk is rich in dietary choline 147 mg, an essential nutrient for human liver and muscle functions2. Moreover, many studies have shown that eating whole eggs does not impact blood cholesterol or increase the risk of heart diseases.
Most observational studies, conducted in several countries, generally reported no significant association of dietary cholesterol or egg intake with CVD outcomes in coronary heart diseases, myocardial infarction, and stroke risk3.
One study found that daily consumption of eggs for six weeks did not increase the cholesterol levels in the subjects nor increased the risk of heart diseases4.
Eating eggs moderately even lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precondition that increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. According to a recent study, consuming eggs 4-7 times weekly is associated with a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome, whereas consuming two or more eggs per day is not associated with a reduced risk for metabolic syndrome5.
Conclusion: Remember Moderation Is The Key
Whole eggs are healthy, nutrient-rich, and the cheapest source of protein, and including them regularly in the diet does not increase blood cholesterol levels. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, keeping a detailed view of dietary choices using a nutrition tracker like the Hint app and cutting back on unhealthy foods will be more effective than omitting eggs.
Always remember moderation is the key to better health. From the data published in the Hint app, we can see that cholesterol levels vary from 75 mg to 315 mg per 100 grams based on the type of the egg recipe. To avoid overeating egg recipes with high cholesterol, you can check the recipes section of the Hint app, and you will find helpful suggestions in descriptions of various recipes.
For example, vegetable egg omelette is a good source of vitamin C, alpha-carotene, biotin, and an excellent source of beta carotene, lutein, and selenium. Still, you should not eat more than one medium piece per day as it contains high cholesterol, about 81 mg in one large piece, i.e., 50 grams.
Egg curry is a good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B5, vitamin C, folate, vitamin E, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese, and an excellent source of biotin, selenium, and vitamin D. Again, this curry has to be taken in moderation as it contains 8 grams of fat and 152 mg of cholesterol per small cup (100 gms)
Check out the recipes section of the Hint app for more helpful suggestions and to get an extensive list of recipes with eggs along with their nutritional profile.
1.Jones PJ, Pappu AS, Hatcher L, Li ZC, Illingworth DR, Connor WE. Dietary cholesterol feeding suppresses human cholesterol synthesis measured by deuterium incorporation and urinary mevalonic acid levels. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 1996 Oct;16(10):1222-8.
2.LClayton Z.S., Fusco E., Kern M. Egg consumption and heart health: A review. Nutrition. 2017;37:79–85. 3.Jo Ann S. Carson, Alice H. Lichtenstein, Cheryl A.M. Anderson, Lawrence J. Appel, Penny M. Kris-Etherton, Katie A. Meyer, Kristina Petersen, Tamar Polonsky, Linda Van Horn, and On behalf of the American Heart Association Nutrition Committee of the Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health; Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
4.Katz DL, Gnanaraj J, Treu JA, Ma Y, Kavak Y, Njike VY. Effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function in adults with coronary artery disease: a randomised, controlled, crossover trial. Am Heart J. 2015 Jan;169(1):162-9.
5.Park SJ, Jung JH, Choi SW, Lee HJ. Association between Egg Consumption and Metabolic Disease. Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour. 2018 Apr;38(2):209-223.