Dietary Cholesterol: Not That Bad For You?
The dietary consensus on eggs and cholesterol flip-flops more than a politician before an election. This is unfortunate because the “its good-its bad-its good” narrative causes people to stop listening.
The re-emerging consensus on eggs and cholesterol is the one which we should rationally anticipate: Eggs, staple of man’s diet for millenia, are good for you. That this was ever really doubted kinda boggles the mind.
The rap on eggs is that they are high in cholesterol. The yellow yolk of a large egg has approximately 210 milligrams of cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that you limit your total cholesterol consumption to 300 milligrams a day, on average (200 milligrams if you have heart disease, high cholesterol, or other coronary risk factors).
Other researchers believe that the AHA guidelines are too restrictive. A reasonable cholesterol intake for a healthy person might be around 500 milligrams a day. Significantly, Canada, the U.K., and Australia set no recommended limits for cholesterol intake. They believe that there is a lack of evidence that dietary cholesterol significantly impacts blood cholesterol.
The average person produces about 75 percent of blood cholesterol in his liver. The rest is absorbed from food. Dietary saturated fat, not dietary cholesterol, is what most determines blood cholesterol levels.
If you don’t eat eggs, what do you replace them with? Likely you will turn to other breakfast foods such as bagels with cream cheese or high in sugar muffins. These foods contain copius amounts of unhealthy saturated fat, a primary driver of increased blood cholesterol levels. The primary fat in eggs is of the monounsaturated variety. Regardless of what the dietary industry ultimately determines regarding how much fat should be in your diet, mono-unsaturated is the best kind.
It’s the saturated-fat-rich foods that typically accompany eggs (bacon, sausage, cheese, and biscuits) and how eggs are often prepared (fried in lots of butter) that can raise blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. A large egg has only 1.5 grams of saturated fat and about 70 calories. A Bacon, Egg & Cheese Biscuit from McDonald’s, on the other hand, has 11 grams of saturated fat and 1,360 milligrams of sodium (more than half the daily limit for these nutrients) and 450 calories.
An egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein (11% RDV) and only 70 calories. The yolk is also a source of zinc, B vitamins (including riboflavin and folate), vitamin A, iron, and other nutrients.
Here’s what the Harvard School of Public Health has to say about Fats and Cholesterol in the diet.
The low-fat approach to eating may have made a difference for the occasional individual, but as a nation it hasn’t helped us control weight or become healthier. In the 1960s, fats and oils supplied Americans with about 45 percent of their calories; about 13 percent of us were obese and under 1 percent had type 2 diabetes, a serious weight-related condition. Today, Americans take in less fat, getting about 33 percent of calories from fats and oils; yet 34 percent of us are obese and 8 percent have diabetes, most with type 2 diabetes.
Why hasn’t cutting fat from the diet paid off as expected? Detailed research—much of it done at Harvard—shows that the total amount of fat in the diet isn’t really linked with weight or disease. What really matters is the type of fat in the diet. Bad fats, meaning trans and saturated fats, increase the risk for certain diseases. Good fats, meaning monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, do just the opposite. They are good for the heart and most other parts of the body.
What about cholesterol in food? For most people, the mix of fats in the diet influences cholesterol in the bloodstream far more than cholesterol in food does.
Read the whole article.
More on egg nutrition from WHFoods.