Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. In fact, a whole egg contains all the nutrients needed to turn a single cell into an entire chicken. However, eggs have gotten a bad reputation because the yolks are high in cholesterol.
Cholesterol is often viewed as negative, this is because some studies have linked high levels of cholesterol with heart disease and early death. Cholesterol also play a very important function in your body. It’s a structural molecule that is essential to every cell membrane. It is also used to make steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen and cortisol.
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 of egg yolks. A single medium-sized egg contains 186 mg of cholesterol, which is 62% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). In contrast, the white is mostly protein and low in cholesterol.
Common recommendations include a maximum of 2–6 yolks per week. However, scientific support for this limitation is lacking. A few studies have examined the effects of eggs on cholesterol levels. These studies divided people into two groups — one group ate 1–3 whole eggs per day while the other ate something else, such as egg substitutes.
These studies show that:
- In almost all cases, “good” HDL cholesterol goes up.
- Total and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels usually remain unchanged but sometimes increase slightly .
- Eating omega-3-enriched eggs can lower blood triglycerides, another important risk factor.
- Blood levels of carotenoid antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin increase significantly
It appears that the response to eating whole eggs depends on the individual.
Although eating a few eggs per day may raise blood cholesterol in some people, they change the “bad” LDL particles from small and dense to large.
People who have predominantly large LDL particles have a lower risk of heart disease. So even if eggs cause mild increases in total and LDL cholesterol levels, it’s not a cause for concern. The science is clear that up to 3 whole eggs per day are perfectly safe for healthy people.
Eggs and Heart Disease
Multiple studies have examined egg consumption and heart disease risk. Many of these are observational studies in which large groups of people are followed for many years.
These studies — some of which include hundreds of thousands of people — consistently show that people who eat whole eggs are no more likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t. Some of the studies even show a reduced risk of stroke.
However, some researches suggest that people who have type 2 diabetes and eat a lot of eggs have an increased risk of heart disease. Health effects may also depend on the rest of your diet. On a low-carb diet — which is the best diet for people with diabetes — eggs lead to improvements in heart disease risk factors.
Some Health Benefits of Eggs
The benefits of consuming eggs far outweigh the potential negatives. They’re also loaded with nutrients and offer various other impressive benefits:
- They’re high in lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that reduce your risk of eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts.
- They’re very high in choline, a nutrient that plays an essential role in all cells.
- They’re high in quality animal protein, the benefits of which include increased muscle mass and better bone health.
- Studies show that eggs increase feelings of fullness and help you lose weight.
The healthiest eggs are omega-3-enriched eggs or eggs from hens that are raised on pasture. These eggs are much higher in omega-3s and important fat-soluble vitamins.