Are Eggs Bad For Your Cholesterol? A Dietitian Settles The Debate

Eggs are one of those foods you can eat at every meal. Scrambled eggs at breakfast can stabilize your blood sugar while keeping you full through lunch. A healthy salad topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs adds a little more protein to your daily protein count. Add some vegetables, such as broccoli or asparagus, to some eggs for a tasty frittata. That's probably a lot of eggs in a day, especially if you're watching your cholesterol. An egg has 186 milligrams of cholesterol, and previous guidelines used to suggest limiting your daily cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day.

But that's changed, according to a 2015 report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which said that there isn't enough evidence to show that dietary cholesterol increases blood cholesterol. Tamar Samuels, a registered dietitian at Culina Health, says most people can eat eggs as part of a heart-healthy diet without increasing their cholesterol levels. However, you have to consider how you cook your eggs and what else is on your plate.

How to prepare heart-healthy eggs

The American Heart Association says that the previous association between high-cholesterol foods and blood cholesterol might have been due to high-cholesterol foods also being high in saturated fat. Saturated fat is the culprit that leads to high cholesterol, which can cause plaque to build up in your artery walls. Foods like eggs and shellfish are high-cholesterol foods that are low in saturated fat. Besides, think about what you typically might pair with eggs. Sausage? Bacon? Toast with gobs of butter?

Rather than limit your cholesterol intake like you might limit your calories, a 2019 advisory from the American Heart Association says to focus on foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and lean proteins to boost the ratio of unsaturated fats to saturated fats. It also said healthy people can have an egg a day. Vegetarians and older adults who don't have high cholesterol can eat more eggs in moderation. However, people with certain conditions should be careful about high-cholesterol foods.

Tamar Samuels says you can cook eggs a little differently to make them healthy. "If you have heart disease, a higher risk for heart disease and/or diabetes, or metabolic syndrome, then boiling, poaching, or sauteing eggs in olive oil or avocado oil is best to minimize additional saturated fat intake from butter," she explains.

Health benefits of eggs

According to Tamar Samuels, you can eat eggs every day as part of a balanced diet. With just 72 calories, you'll get more than 6 grams of protein with just 1.6 grams of saturated fat. "Eggs contain several health-promoting vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium, and choline," she says.

You can eat as many egg whites as you want because they're almost fat-free and have zero cholesterol. But you might miss out on some of the nutrients without the yolk. You'll only get half the protein in an egg white, and you'll miss out on the choline, which supports your mood and memory. "The yolk also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are beneficial for eye health," Samuels states.

Eggs also have compounds such as ovotransferrin and ovomucoid that protect your body against oxidative stress, according to a 2019 article in Nutrients. Protein peptides in eggs can protect against cancer, and lysozyme found in egg whites can treat inflammatory bowel syndrome. Enzymes in eggs can also act similarly to ACE inhibitors used to treat hypertension.