Curejoy Expert Claude C Butler Explains:
The answer to this is that Chicken eggs do raise cholesterol levels but its impact on heart health is fairly misunderstood.
It is true that a single medium sized egg contains 186 mg (62% of the recommended daily intake) of cholesterol, all of which is found in the yolk. The whites are free of cholesterol and rich in protein. Most experts have recommended that for a healthy individual, ideally a single egg should do no harm if he manages to keep the rest of the cholesterol intake in check. For people with heart disease and diabetes the dietary limit of 200 mg is a bit tough to meet.
Having said this, the real story of how our body reacts to cholesterol in the diet is fairly intriguing and alters our perception about cholesterol the “villain”. While it is true that higher cholesterol levels in the blood are detrimental to heart health, the truth is that cholesterol is super critical element for a healthy body. It is a structural molecule that is an essential part of every single cell membrane and an essential element in making steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen and cortisol.
Not relying on diet to provide cholesterol, the liver is programmed to produce cholesterol needed for vital processes, on its own. If you introduce cholesterol rich food into the body, the liver correspondingly lowers the production, ensuring healthy levels are maintained. So even with a cholesterol loaded diet, your cholesterol levels remain fairly stable.
Studies have shown that eggs increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, reduce triglyceride levels (Omega-3 enriched eggs) and maintain (sometimes slightly increase) LDL levels. Additionally it provides vital protein, vitamins- B12 and D, riboflavin, folate, antioxidants-Lutein and Zeaxanthine, and Choline, a brain nutrient.
Studies show that eggs change the LDL particles from small, dense LDL to Large LDL which actually lowers the risk of heart disease. So even if eggs cause mild increases in Total and LDL cholesterol levels, this is not a cause for concern.
The science is clear that up to 3 whole eggs per day are perfectly safe for healthy people who are trying to stay healthy. But diabetics who eat eggs are at an increased risk of heart disease.
Note: Not all eggs are the same. Most eggs at the supermarket are from chickens that are raised in factories and fed grain-based feeds. The healthiest eggs are Omega-3 enriched eggs, or eggs from hens that are raised on pasture. These eggs are much higher in Omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins.