Frequently asked questions

Cholesterol and Eggs

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance (lipid). Humans cannot live without cholesterol. It is essential to your body’s cell membranes, to the insulation of your nerves and to the production of certain hormones. Cholesterol is used by your liver to make bile acids which in turn help digest your food.

There is much confusion about the cholesterol you eat and the cholesterol in your blood. Your dietary cholesterol exists in food as a dietary lipid. You find cholesterol only in animal products such as meat and dairy foods. Blood cholesterol exists in a different way, as a natural component of your blood lipids. The cholesterol in your blood comes both from your liver and from the foods you eat. Your liver makes about 80% of your blood cholesterol. Only about 20% comes from your diet. The amount of fat and cholesterol you eat may influence all levels of your blood lipids, including your blood cholesterol levels.

There is also good cholesterol referred to as HDL and bad cholesterol called LDL. A small percentage of the population is hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol, just as a certain segment of the population is diabetic. Only your Doctor can test your cholesterol levels and advise you of what your cholesterol reading is and what appropriate steps are right for you. Diet and exercise are almost always the first lines of defence against undesirable lipid levels. Changes in diet and frequent exercise can reduce your blood cholesterol level by up to 15%, but if you are a normal healthy person, reducing your saturated fat and trans fatty acid intake has the biggest impact on reducing serum cholesterol, and not reducing your cholesterol intake. However, some people have genetically determined lipid problems that don't respond to diet and require medication. These individuals should definitely consult with a doctor regarding dietary cholesterol.

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How true is what I read about cholesterol and eggs?

  1. Doctors first started recommending that the general population limit their egg consumption because intuitively it would make sense that a lot of cholesterol in the diet would cause an increase in blood cholesterol and there were studies done that supported this hypothesis. This claim was derived from limited 'so-called' proven science. Since these warnings of the 60's, 70's and 80's that basically massacred egg consumption, new studies have surfaced that contradict this original hypothesis.
  2. As far as we know, no new scientific studies link egg consumption to heart disease. Currently, all of the new research concludes that for the average person, egg consumption does not increase serum cholesterol significantly. In fact two long-running epidemiology studies, the Nurses Health Study at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study at Harvard School of Public Health reveal that there is no link between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke. This was based on a sample size of nearly 120,000 adults and an average of 12 years of tracking their egg consumption versus the disorders that arose over this time frame The high egg users were no more prone to heart or stroke than the low egg users.
  3. New research is showing that it is saturated fat and not dietary cholesterol that increases cholesterol in the blood and leads to clogging of the arteries.
  4. Cholesterol is part of every cell in the body. If you do not consume it, your body will produce it. It is a very important nutrient to normal cell development and functioning. This is why it is in an egg. An egg contains all of the nutrients necessary to take a single fertilized cell and turn it into a multi-celled life form (a chick). That is, it contains all nutrients necessary to grow life. The egg is the equivalent of a human umbilical cord. This is why it contains so many vitamins and minerals and this is also why it contains cholesterol. The only vitamin missing for human nutrition is vitamin C.
  5. A certain small percentage of the population is hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol and these people should consult their physicians about dietary cholesterol intake.
  6. In a study done on Omega 3 eggs, 25 hypercholesterolemic (high blood cholesterol) individuals were fed 12 eggs per week. Of the 25 individuals only 2 experienced a scientifically significant increase in serum cholesterol from consumption of both Omega 3 eggs and regular large eggs. All 25 experienced a reduction in serum tryglicerides when consuming 12 Omega 3 eggs per week, and all 12 increased their omega-3 consumption in general by consuming Omega 3 eggs. Overall positive results for eggs, especially Omega 3 eggs! This study focused on the segment of the population that has a problem with high blood cholesterol, and only a small percentage of these people experienced any kind of increase in serum cholesterol.
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How many eggs can I eat a week?

The number of eggs any one individual can eat within a week is very specific to that person's health issues or needs. For young children, eggs are an excellent source of necessary protein and other nutrients important to growing bodies and minds.

Most adults without health issues can easily eat one or two eggs a day and have no negative effect on their fat and cholesterol count. For some adults, where cholesterol or other health factors are an issue, their Doctor may have recommended two to three eggs a week.

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