Can You Eat Eggs if You Have High Cholesterol?

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High in protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants eggs are one of nature’s most nutritious and perfectly packaged proteins. But for years they were considered a no-go because they contain a fair amount of dietary cholesterol. 

Are you confused about dietary cholesterol versus the cholesterol in your blood? Dietary cholesterol is the cholesterol you consume when you eat animal products. All animals, including humans, make cholesterol in their bodies. When you eat animal products like eggs, meat, poultry, dairy products, and shellfish, you consume the cholesterol the animal made, known as dietary cholesterol. 

So what’s prompted the great egg comeback? While eggs do contain cholesterol, the new USDA dietary guidelines no longer specify a daily cholesterol limit for a few reasons:

People are eating the recommended amount of cholesterol. Previous guidelines needed to set a limit on cholesterol because people were eating too much. Now, decades later, we are eating the recommended amount (hooray!), so there’s no longer a need to take up prime real estate in the nutrition guidelines to stipulate an amount. This doesn’t mean we can now eat more cholesterol.

Eggs contain cholesterol but also contain many beneficial nutrients. Eggs deliver high-quality protein and you can eat them along with other healthy protein-rich foods like fish, lean poultry, and beans. Also, there’s no research showing an association between eating eggs and heart disease. So there’s no longer a limit on how many eggs you can eat, unless you have high cholesterol or heart disease.

Saturated fats and trans fats matter more. When it comes to managing your blood cholesterol, what’s more important is to reduce how much saturated and trans fats you consume. Trans fats are mostly found in fried foods like doughnuts, baked goods like cakes, and stick margarine. Foods high in saturated fats, like fatty and processed meats and high-fat dairy products, are also high in cholesterol; so by limiting these foods, you’ll automatically be eating a lower cholesterol diet. Interestingly, eggs and shellfish are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fats.

The Bottom Line: Know Your Risks

If you have high cholesterol, diabetes, or have had a heart attack, it’s a good idea to limit your cholesterol intake from all foods, including eggs. Eggs can be part of a healthy eating plan, along with a variety of other nutritious protein-rich foods like beans, fish, and skinless chicken, just don’t eat too many. The American Heart Association suggests one egg (or two egg whites) per day for people who eat them, as part of a healthy diet.

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