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Food Myth Friday: Eating Eggs Will Raise Your Cholesterol.


When you think of breakfast, likely you think of eggs. However, eggs have found their way into all daily meals and snacks, and with good reason. Eggs are an excellent sourced of fats and proteins, and they are one of the cheapest ways to get it!


Though in recent years, the noble egg has come under the scrutiny of health professionals for increasing blood cholesterol levels. Lord knows we don't need that, but is it true? Let's take a look at this question on Food Myth Friday!

 

Cholesterol is bad, right?

Well, it's definitely often viewed as a negative factor in any conversation. However, that's not quite the truth. Cholesterol is vital to several functions in your body. It's actually a structural molecule that literally helps hold you together.

You may not know about it because it helps create steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol. For us, fellows chasing gains, both testosterone and cortisol are VITAL to our success. So, cholesterol is very important for growth and recovery!

Now, the cool thing about your body is that it's not always possible to get enough cholesterol from your diet, so your liver produces enough to meet your body's needs! On top of that, when you start eating a high cholesterol diet, your liver produces less in order to keep cholesterol levels from becoming too high. So, if you eat eggs, your liver is like, "Cool! We're getting some eggs. I'll tone it down with the cholesterol production."

In other words, the total amount of cholesterol in the body changes just a little. However, what does change is the source from which you're drawing: diet or liver. That being said, you should absolutely avoid eating cholesterol in abundance, as it could cause an increase in cholesterol levels.

 

So, how many are too many?

The back and forth on whether eggs are good for us or not has been raging on my entire life. The pendulum seems to swing weekly, but the one thing that folks seem to agree on is that egg whites are cool, no matter what. Well, except vegans and some health experts that link them to different problems down the line. However, then there are those that espouse that the yolk has its benefits too—Gah, so confusing. However, today we're just looking at the cholesterol facet of eating eggs. We will explore other health benefits and drawbacks in a more in-depth look at eggs later on.

So, let's look at the facts. A single medium egg has 186mg of cholesterol. So that weighs in at around 62% of your recommended daily intake. So, two with breakfast and you're over the limit... bummer. Egg whites, in contrast, have very little cholesterol and consist mainly of protein. Gains!

So, the health professionals, whoever they are, recommend 2-6 whole eggs a week. However, look as I may, there has been no study on why that's the recommendation. There has been another study; however, that looked into egg consumption. Two groups were commissioned; one group ate 1-3 whole eggs per day while the others ate things such as egg substitute.

The study showed:

  • In nearly every case, HDL (good) cholesterol goes up.

  • Total LDL (bad) cholesterol levels mostly remained steady but did increase slightly as well in some subjects.

  • Eating omega-3-enriched eggs can lower blood triglycerides.

  • Slight elevation of carotenoid antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin increased significantly.

However, the frustrating part of the study showed that the results really depended on the individual. 70% of people had no effect on total LDL cholesterol, but 30% had the markers increase slightly.

There is good news, though! While it did raise the blood cholesterol in some people, it actually changed the cholesterol shape and size on the microscopic level. Usually, LDL particles are small and dense, but the consumption of eggs creates larger LDL particles. In this particular instance, bigger seems to be better. People who have predominantly large LDL particles have a lower risk of heart disease. So even if eggs increase LDL, it's not a huge cause for concern!

 

So, it's possible that eating more than three eggs per day could negatively impact your health, but it looks unlikely. Eggs are perfectly safe, even when you're consuming a few a day. This is because, given their nutrients and other health benefits, farm-fresh eggs may be among the healthiest foods on the planet. Not to mention one of the most cost-effective.




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