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Cracking the Cholesterol Caper: The Truth about Eggs

Sherlock Chicken

Have you fallen victim to the terrible “trend” of making egg white omelettes, throwing away the yolks because of their cholesterol levels? Or, worse yet, stopped eating eggs altogether? (Sorry vegans, this isn’t a dig at you!) A lot of people ask me about eggs, yolks and cholesterol. So I thought I’d pop down the answers in a post.

It’s true, egg yolks do contain cholesterol, however, they also contain a whole host of other nutrients that are important to our health.

In the arena of healthful foods, eggs do pretty darn well for themselves! They’re a fantastic, affordable source of complete protein (around 6g per medium-sized egg) and they contain SO MANY nutrients!


And here’s the thing: these nutrients are split between the white and the yolk. All of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and the healthy omega-3 fats are in the yolk because that’s where all the fat is. A big chunk of the B5, B6, B12, folate and choline are also in the yolk. Forty percent of the protein is in the yolk. Yes, 40%, which is a hefty chunk to be throwing away!

But what about the cholesterol!?!? Cholesterol is a perfectly natural substance that our liver produces for our bodies to make steroid hormones, bile acids and cell membranes, amongst other things. Cholesterol coming from our diets amounts to only 20-30% of the amount found in our blood and this has an insignificant impact on our blood lipid profile. Umm… What profile? The breakdown of the types of fats in your blood.

“But I’ve been told I have high cholesterol and need to reduce my levels. Won’t eating eggs raise them even more?”

Well, the short answer is “not necessarily”. Well-sourced eggs (organic, biodynamic or free-range) can actually improve your cholesterol profile and there is a growing body of research (Advances in Nutrition and British Medical Journal) indicating that eating eggs does not increase the risk of coronary heart disease and suggests protection against the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. To simplify things, there are two basic types of cholesterol: LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) and HDL (the “good”cholesterol). It’s the job of the HDL to float around your bloodstream and mop up any excess LDL that the cells of your body don’t need. Raised levels of LDL over an extended period increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases, like strokes and heart attacks (hence the “bad” label). Including good fats in your diet, like those found in eggs, avocado, nuts and seeds, have a positive effect on your cholesterol profile. i.e. they can raise your HDL and lower your LDL. This is a great result for all of us. Hooray! More research is being done all the time but we can safely* enjoy up to 7 eggs per week without worrying. Saying this, be mindful of how you have your eggs and what you enjoy them with. Poached eggs with smashed avo and wilted greens on a lovely seeded sourdough? Or fried in canola oil with streaky bacon, sausages, tinned baked beans and white toast with margarine?

⇒ You may like to read about Low Fat

It is the amounts of saturated and trans fats in your diet that is far more likely to be having a negative impact on your cholesterol and blood lipid levels (the types of fats in your blood). Not all saturated fats are bad guys (I won’t go into that here) but trans fats, which you can find in some processed and deep fried foods are definitely no good. So no more egg-white omelettes, no more wasted yolks, and lots more deliciousness!

*There is still the need for caution and consultation with a health professional for those with type 2 diabetes and those who already have cardiovascular disease, as the research indicated above is based on healthy individuals.

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