Why Eggs Cause High Cholesterol

We are all told to beware of eggs because they can cause high cholesterol, but does this mean we should really cut out eggs from our diet? After all, they are also an excellent source of protein and very nutritious.

Eggs are actually among the most nutritious foods you can consume, so keeping them in your diet can be highly beneficial, especially when it comes to your cholesterol.

Much of the fear of eggs and egg yolks originates from the lack of understanding of cholesterol. As most people understand it, cholesterol is what contributes to heart disease and increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. But it is a bit more complicated than this.

In this blog, you’ll see…

  • What cholesterol really is
  • How eggs impact cholesterol
  • Top benefits of eating eggs
  • What negative effects eggs can really have
  • How eggs got their bad rap

WHAT IS CHOLESTEROL?

For most people, cholesterol is a dirty work and the last thing you would want to raise. We are all so worried about having high cholesterol but how well do we really understand it?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that is carried through your bloodstream, and while fat is usually something we see as negative, it actually has some benefits to our body. Cholesterol is produced by the liver, and we also get it from animal products that we consume, and it is used to produce hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.

There are two types of cholesterol, the good and the bad.

The other type of cholesterol is what you should be concerned about. This cholesterol is known as LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, and is what raises your risk of heart disease. This is the cholesterol you do not want to rise. This cholesterol sticks to the walls of your arteries and can prevent proper blood flow. This process is what leads to complications.

The good cholesterol is referred to as HDL or high-density lipoprotein. This cholesterol helps to remove the bad cholesterol from your system and helps lower your risk of heart disease.

You have probably also heard the term “Total cholesterol” and what this refers to is the sum of your HDL, LDL, and your triglycerides, which are not a type of cholesterol but often are associated with having bad cholesterol levels.

Having healthy cholesterol isn’t just about having a low about of LDL, but having a good balance between LDL and HDL. A good balance means having more HDL than LDL in your arteries, and the last thing you want is to have high levels of LDL and low levels of HDL.

Much of your cholesterol is determined by the foods that you eat and eating a balanced diet of whole foods, like the ones on our Custom Meal Plans, are a great place to start to keep your cholesterol balanced.

DO EGGS RAISE CHOLESTEROL 

When we think of cholesterol, we too often look at it in a negative view.

It is true that eggs can cause high cholesterol, but what is overlooked is that there is good and bad cholesterol and it is essential to the overall function of the body.

Our body needs cholesterol to produce hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol.

Eggs, or the yolks, in particular, have a high amount of cholesterol that was believed to contribute to heart disease, raising a person’s risk of heart attack.

Although there is a significant amount of cholesterol in the egg yolk, it mostly impacts our HDL or the good cholesterol.

Studies have shown that most people who eat up to 3 eggs every day, see a spike in their HDL, while their LDL, or the bad cholesterol, remains the same [1, 2].

These studies show that while this is the result for most people, there were a few that did see a slight rise in their LDL. It is these people that would have to be more cautious when consuming eggs [3, 4].

You also was to make sure that no matter which group you fall in, you are limiting your egg consumption.

TOP BENEFITS OF EGGS

  • Weight loss – Eggs are great if you are trying to lose weight as they also help to keep you full and satiated, so you don’t overeat. This can help you consume fewer calories and lose weight quicker [5, 6].
  • Brain Health – This protein source is great for the health of your brain due to its high amounts of choline, a nutrient that supports brain development, memory, and focus [7, 8, 9].
  • Maintain Muscle – Consuming eggs, and other animal-based proteins can help you maintain muscle, especially as your body begins to age [10].
  • Supports Healthy Cholesterol – As you’ve read, eggs get a bad rap when it comes to cholesterol, and unless you are sensitive to them, they are a great addition to your diet and can improve your overall cholesterol.
  • Lowers Risk of Heart Disease – Yes, you read that right, eating eggs can actually help reduce your risk of heart disease, rather than raise it. Eggs help to lift up your HDL, which is known to protect against heart attack and stroke [11].
  • Protein on a Budget – While this isn’t entirely a health benefit, it is beneficial because eggs are among the cheapest sources of quality protein. You really get your money’s worth with this food!

NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS OF TOO MANY EGGS

Although there seems to be no harm in consuming at least three eggs a day, there is evidence that too many eggs, or rather egg yolks, can be bad for you, especially if you are one of the few who is more sensitive to eggs and see a change in your LDL.

If you are one of these people, you will want to limit your intake of whole eggs. The majority of bad side effects, such as high LDL, may actually not be the result of the eggs themselves, but rather the result of the way we prepare them and the foods that are typically consumed alongside them.

HOW DID EGGS GET A BAD REPUTATION?

For years we have been warned that eating eggs and consuming the yolk is bad for our health. We are told that they are fattening, skyrocket our cholesterol and raise your risk of having a heart attack.

And while eggs can help us lose weight, the warning about cholesterol was only half right. Studies conducted over the past 40 years show that yes, eggs do contribute to high cholesterol, but not the wrong kind.

And they can even lower your risk of heart disease, so how did it get this way?

Think about the foods that are typically eaten with bacon and how eggs are often prepared. This has a lot to do with the higher risks of heart disease in people who consume eggs, making the relationship between eggs and heart disease a correlation, not causation.

Eggs are typically prepared for breakfast, alongside greasy foods like sausage and bacon. Too often, the eggs are often cooked in butter or bacon grease. When eaten all together, this is what can raise your bad cholesterol and leave a person at a greater risk of heart disease.

Your overall diet, and how you prepare your foods, can have an enormous impact on your health and it is not just reliant upon one food in particular. To ensure that you are eating a well-balanced diet, with or without eggs, sign up for a Custom Meal Plan where we create a nutrition plan for you based on your likes and what your individual body needs.

When you eat according to your body, you are more likely to have better control over your health, including your cholesterol levels. It will also help you lose fat, which alone will improve your cholesterol levels.

The bottom line? Don’t give up whole eggs just yet, as they can be incredibly nutritious, but limit the amount to you consume every day to keep your LDL low, especially if you know you are sensitive to eggs.

If you are concerned that you may be sensitive to eggs and have high levels of LDL, switch out your whole eggs for egg whites. When prepared right, egg whites can be just as tasty and satisfying as whole eggs.

And if you are wanting to only eat egg white and are on a Custom Meal Plan, feel free to let us know when you fill out your questionnaire, this way we can work them into your plan, rather than whole eggs. 

Lauren Epler | View All Posts by Lauren

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