You’ve probably come across many people who are concerned about cholesterol in eggs…they’ll eschew them altogether or maybe they’re always ordering that egg white omelet at the diner. But believe or not, in most cases they are doing themselves a huge disservice. The truth is that eggs, yolk and all, are some of the healthiest things you can eat…one of the most complete foods nutrient-wise on the planet.
But aren’t eggs high in cholesterol?
Yes, on paper, eggs have a high concentration of cholesterol compared to other foods. So naturally you’d think if you ate a lot of eggs your cholesterol levels would skyrocket. But guess what…you’d be completely wrong!
Why? Because without getting into the science of it all, dietary cholesterol does NOT increase your body’s cholesterol levels. Just like eating high fat food does not automatically add fat to your body.
What most people are not aware of is that a) cholesterol is critical for your health and without it you could not survive, and b) most of your cholesterol comes from your liver, not your diet.
As such, if you happen to have very high cholesterol (which isn’t necessarily bad if your HDL is high), it’s more than likely a genetic issue. It usually means that your liver is producing an abnormally high amount of cholesterol, not that you are eating too many cholesterol-laden foods.
It’s interesting to note that when you do eat foods high in cholesterol, your liver will respond by producing less cholesterol to keep a balance. Also, most of the cholesterol in eggs won’t be absorbed by the body anyway…it just takes what it needs and the rest is processed.
Bottom Line: Eggs are high in cholesterol, but eating eggs does not raise your cholesterol levels. That is a myth.
So what about the yolks? Should I add them back into my diet?
All of the cholesterol in eggs is concentrated in the yolks, so people who are unaware of the fact that eggs don’t raise your cholesterol levels will typically order egg whites. And while the whites contain a good amount of nutrients, the yolks actually have a lot more. So by avoiding the yolk you are throwing away important nutrients that you might not be getting elsewhere.
Yolks have not only protein just like the whites, but also a full complement of essential vitamins (A, B2, B9, B12, D, E and K) as well as iron, zinc, phosphorous, choline and antioxidants. Does it sound like a good idea to avoid them, especially given the fact that they do not raise your cholesterol levels? We didn’t think so!
If you are really concerned about your health, how about you avoid that empty-calorie white toast slathered in sugary jelly, that nitrate-filled bacon fried in unhealthy oil, that waffle covered in imitation syrup…those are the real enemies on your breakfast table.
The egg, yolk and all? It’s the healthiest thing on your plate by far!
So what’s the bottom line with cholesterol in eggs?
All of the research shows that eggs are a healthy addition to your diet, and you can eat them regularly without any concern about raising your body’s serum cholesterol levels. The only cases when you might want to avoid eating a lot of eggs is if you are diabetic or if you have issues with cholesterol metabolism. But even then the chances of eggs being problematic is very slim.
We’ll summarize here with some of the most common questions and quick answers for you:
1. Are eggs high in cholesterol? Yes, but eating them does not affect your cholesterol levels.
2. Is the cholesterol in eggs bad? No, it’s just like any other dietary cholesterol, and again, it does not directly influence your body’s serum cholesterol.
3. Should I avoid eggs? Absolutely not. They are packed with protein and tons of essential nutrients that you may not be getting in your diet.
4. Should I avoid yolks? Absolutely not. Much of the nutrient content of an egg is concentrated in the yolk. When you tell the waitress egg whites only you are throwing out some really important nutrients.
5. What about egg substitutes? Most of them are full of chemicals, including artificial colors, and do more damage to your health than a whole egg ever could. Plus without the yolks, they are much less nutritious.
We hope we’ve cleared up the cholesterol in eggs issue for you. So next time you hear your friend order egg whites, you can laugh (inside or out loud) knowing that he/she is making a really bad decision. Or you can tell him/her that she should really include the yolk…your choice!