Monday, March 7, 2016

Eggs and the Cholesterol Debate

We eat a lot of eggs, enough to produce 75 billion in the U.S. each year. With all the omelets, egg salads, and recipes calling for eggs...are they good for us?

Eggs are considered the gold-standard of protein. One large egg has 70 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 6 grams of protein, and 212mg of cholesterol. Eggs also contain vitamin A, potassium, and many B vitamins.

People concerned with cholesterol have avoided egg yolks for a long time since all the dietary cholesterol is contained in the yolk. The American Heart Association used to advise the general  population to limit dietary cholesterol to 300mg/day and for people with high cholesterol or heart disease risk to limit their dietary cholesterol to 200mg/day, and no more than 2 egg yolks per week.

New research on dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood have been inconclusive leading the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology to state more studies are needed before definitive recommendations for dietary cholesterol can be made. While it is clear more evidence is needed to establish safe limits, unrestricted consumption might not be helpful. Since cholesterol is naturally produced in the  liver it is not an essential nutrient. Some studies suggest dietary cholesterol may increase bad “LDL” cholesterol as much as 5%.

We recommend a common sense approach; enjoy eggs on occasion but if you have high cholesterol don’t eat egg yolks every day. Egg whites do not contain cholesterol and are fine to eat daily. For blood cholesterol concerns focus on reducing saturated fat intake which has a stronger association with increasing bad “LDL” cholesterol. Limit fried food, butter, whole milk, 2% milk, cheese, ice cream, red meat, bacon, sausage, poultry skin, chocolate, cookies, cake, pastries, baked goods, chips, pizza, and many processed foods.

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