There have been many bad recommendations perpetuated over the years about how much cholesterol per day you should take in. Do eggs count? This confusion has been created by national organizations (American Heart, American Cancer, American Diabetic Association) combined with mainstream media’s interpretation of the medical research. The research, on the other hand, has been extremely consistent with what has been good and bad for you. Some examples include:
Eat fish because it’s good for you, then don’t eat fish because it’s loaded with pesticides (pesticides are in farm raised, which you should not have been eating in the first place).
- Avoid salt to protect your heart then don’t worry because it might not help (the evidence was never strong in the first place).
- Cut back on fat to protect your heart then take fish oils (the right type of fats have always been good for us).
- Hormone replacement therapy for women was essential, then it causes heart disease and cancer (it was NEVER a good idea to screw around with Mother Nature’s original plan).
The list is obviously longer, but you get the idea. So what about the egg story? Eggs contain cholesterol, so they’re bad for us, right?
Only if you mistakenly believe that the cholesterol in our diet plays a strong role in the cholesterol in your bloodstream. You can keep avoiding eggs.
For the rest of you, eggs can be part of a healthy lifestyle, which is confirmed in this particular study. Researchers looked across multiple studies to get an idea of just how much eggs played a role in the risk of heart attack or stroke. Here’s what they found:
- An average of one egg per day had no effect on heart disease (Tweet this).
- For stroke, one egg per day lowered the risk of stroke by 9%.
- However, in diabetics, those with the highest intake of eggs had a 54% increased risk of heart disease.
- This same group, though had a 25% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
So, the old myth that eggs are bad for your cholesterol and your heart just don’t hold true, although the story may be different for diabetics.
Here are some important considerations:
- I always steer patients towards “veg-a-fed” or “omega-3” eggs. These chickens are fed flax seed, which raises the omega 3 content, a known protector of the heart.
- The yolk of eggs is very high in carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. They are actually good for you.
- If you choose to cook them in a pan, use olive oil, not Pam or anything like that.
- Better yet, liven the dish up with spices, jalapenos, peppers and any other veggies you’re comfortable with. You increase the phytonutrient value with hardly any caloric increase.
As for why the response may be different in diabetics, I could make some educated guesses as to why this finding occured, but it is still my gut feeling that, in the presence of the 4 factors noted above, the effect of egg intake on the heart would be at worst, neutral, and at best, protective.
How do you like your eggs?