Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. However, eggs have gotten a bad reputation because the yolks are high in cholesterol. In fact, a single medium sized egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol, which is 62% of the recommended daily intake. People believe that if you eat cholesterol, that it would raise cholesterol in the blood and contribute to heart disease.
But it turns out that it isn’t that simple. The more you eat of cholesterol, the less your body produces instead. Let us explain how that works…
How Your Body Regulates Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is often seen as a negative word. When we hear it, we automatically start thinking of statin medication, heart attacks and early death. But the truth is that cholesterol is a very important part of the body. It is a structural molecule that is an essential part of every single cell membrane. It is also used to make steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen and cortisol. Without cholesterol, we wouldn’t even exist.
Given how incredibly important cholesterol is, the body has evolved elaborate ways to ensure that we always have enough of it available. Because getting cholesterol from the diet isn’t always an option, the liver actually produces cholesterol. But when we eat cholesterol rich foods, the liver starts producing less.
What Happens When People Eat Several Whole Eggs Per Day?
For many decades, people have been advised to limit their consumption of eggs, or at least egg yolks (the white is mostly protein and is low in cholesterol). Common recommendations include a maximum of 2-6 yolks per week. However, there really isn’t much scientific support for these limitations.
Eggs and Heart Disease
Don’t eggs increase the risk of heart disease? This theory came from the idea that eating saturated fat and dietary cholesterol increases the risk of atherosclerosis and other heart diseases. Research over the last decade confirms that dietary cholesterol appears to have little, if any effect on blood cholesterol, and there’s no evidence to show saturated fat consumption increases the risk of heart disease, so avoiding eggs for this reason doesn’t make much sense.
The liver produces large amounts of cholesterol. When we eat a lot of eggs (high in cholesterol), the liver produces less instead. Many observational studies show that people who eat eggs don’t have an increased risk of heart disease, but some of the studies do show an increased risk in diabetics.