Egg Cholesterol Myth Debunked
The egg cholesterol myth. The mere mention of such an idea musters up acrimonious backlash that usually ends up getting no where. There’s the “eggs are horrible for cholesterol” camp and the “eggs are great for cholesterol” camp. What both parties fail to realize is that there is indeed a happy medium, a middle ground where everyone can agree on.
The egg cholesterol myth says that eggs are bad for your cholesterol and overall heart health. In fact, many people believe that eating eggs over a long period of time can be the cause of heart attack, stroke, and several other cardiovascular diseases. It’s said that the saturated fats in eggs only increases your triglycerides and aids in clogging your arteries with harmful plaque. Are any of these claims true? Well, yes and no.
The egg cholesterol myth claim depends on a plethora of different factors such as your age, current cholesterol levels, how much unsaturated fats you consume throughout the day, your exercise habits, the amount of eggs you consume daily, and what part of the egg it is that you’re actually eating, among many other factors.
So, it’s pretty safe to say that the egg cholesterol myth is just that, a myth. Like most things that involve your health, there is a very large gray area that should be taken into consideration. People usually oppose gray areas as they tend to complicate things. This is completely understandable and rational, yet the truth remains that one does exist here. Below, you’ll see the egg cholesterol myth analyzed in greater detail to help you better understand why in some circumstances it’s OK to eat eggs and why other’s it can be dangerous.
The main egg cholesterol myth claim
The blanket statement that eggs in general are bad for your heart is simply false. This is analogous to saying that any food that contains a milligram of cholesterol or a gram of saturated fat is damaging to your heart. This type of extreme thinking will force you to limit foods from your diet who’s health benefits insurmountably out weight any health risks that they may impose upon you.
To better understand this idea, let’s break the egg down into its two counterparts: The egg yolk and the egg white.
As you can see, an egg yolk contains over three times the calories that an egg white has. Along with this, it contains unhealthy saturated fats and a whopping 184 mg of cholesterol in just the yolk. The 17 calories that make up an egg white is made up of nearly all protein. Though this makes the egg white pretty impressive, unlike the egg yolk, it doesn’t contain any heart healthy unsaturated fat.
So, you get the benefits of an egg white by being nearly pure protein, yet you don’t get any actual heart healthy benefits from it like you do with the unsaturated fats found in an egg yolk. It seems to me that there is an obvious gray area within the egg cholesterol myth. The truth is that in some circumstances eggs are great for you, while in others they’re not so great for you. This may not be the perfect clear cut answer that you were hoping for. Nevertheless, it will hopefully allow you to realize that you indeed have many options available to you.
Other factors that come into play are how many eggs you actually consume. Do you eat an egg a day? How about ten eggs a day? The quantity of eggs you eat daily will aid in governing whether or not it’s truly damaging for your heart to continue eating them.
An important concept to remember here is that foods themselves are not inherently “good” or “bad”, unlike what the egg cholesterol myth may assert. Such judgments should instead be based upon your current health status, activity level, medical history, family history, age, and how healthy your current diet is, among many other factors.
Now, let’s see why it’s important to take an objective look at your own eating habits to give you a clearer understanding of why the egg cholesterol myth is false.
How healthy is your current diet?
If your current eating habits are very productive toward keeping your heart healthy, then eating an egg here and there will not be the end of the world. However, if you eat an exorbitant amount of high cholesterol foods, then adding in whole eggs will only make matters worse for you.
So, let’s suppose that you enjoy eating egg whites, yet you are adamant on making every meal a heart healthy one. You can then simply cook your egg whites in olive oil to help give it a cholesterol lowering boost of unsaturated fats. Doing this will truly turn your eggs into a cholesterol lowering super food! Thus, providing even more evidence against the egg cholesterol myth.
On the flip side, suppose that you don’t want to give up eating whole eggs entirely. You can then try making your meal as a whole more heart healthy instead of simply not eating eggs at all. This is important due to egg yolks containing a relatively high amount of cholesterol in them, as well as some saturated fat.
To help make your meal healthier, you can try cooking your whole eggs in olive oil and incorporate some fruit with your dish. The soluble fiber that all fruit contain within them helps to lower your cholesterol. This, in conjunction with say perhaps soy milk or a whey protein shake takes what could have been an artery clogging meal and turns it into a mildly heart healthy meal that can actually improve your cholesterol levels.
Other factors that the egg cholesterol myth doesn’t consider
Another factor that trumps the false and simplistic egg cholesterol myth is how active you are. A sedentary lifestyle is a cardiovascular risk factor that could possibly contribute to having you develop a cardiovascular disease. So, if you fall under this category then eating several whole eggs on a daily basis may promote the development of cardiovascular disease.
How do you know if you’re sedentary or not? Well, you’re considered to be sedentary if you’re engaging in no physical activity at all, or your physical activity is fewer than 3 days per week, at lower intensity, and/or less than 30-minutes per day for fewer than 3-months.
On the other hand, if you are very active, then eating some whole eggs here and there shouldn’t be an enormous problem. There is a very large gray area with the egg cholesterol myth that needs to be taken into consideration here, as is the case with your current cholesterol levels.
If you’re total cholesterol levels are above 239, which is in the high range, then eating whole eggs is probably not a great idea for you. However, if your cholesterol levels are under 200, which is in the optimal range, then eating whole eggs every now and then shouldn’t have much impact on your overall heart health.
Final thoughts on the egg cholesterol myth
As you can clearly see, the egg cholesterol myth that eggs are inherently bad for your heart health doesn’t hold much weight when you look at the evidence. There are a plethora of factors that need to be taken into consideration before you make such a judgement.
There are pros and cons to eating egg yolks and egg whites. It will depend on how you cook them (e.g. in butter or olive oil?), what you’re eating them with (e.g. bacon or fruit?), how often you eat them, and so on.
The egg cholesterol myth that eggs in general are bad for your cholesterol is not so cut and dry. Whether eggs are good or bad for you will depend on many factors such as your current heart health, current cholesterol levels, your age, your activity level, any heart healthy supplements you’re taking, and much more.
With the examples given in this article, I think it’s safe to say that the egg cholesterol is blatantly false. There are a ton of different factors that come into play before you can truly decide if eggs are bad for your health or not. However, if you’re still unsure as to whether or not it’s safe for you to consume whole eggs, perhaps you should get your cholesterol checked or talk to your doctor so you can find out exactly how healthy your heart is. Irregardless, you can take comfort in knowing that the egg cholesterol myth is just that, a myth.