Cholesterol, schmolesterol—eggs are good for you

Yes, eggs have cholesterol in them. But scientists now say that they also have something that blocks the absorption of that cholesterol. Since I’m writing about French toast this week in Blue Kitchen, it seemed like a good time to update this post I did about a year ago.

eggs.jpg

The people over at the American Egg Board need to get on the stick. Studies showed that wine in moderate amounts is good for you, especially red wine. Bingo. That story is everywhere. Winemakers are even trying to get legislation passed to tout the health benefits on labels.

Ditto chocolate, especially dark chocolate. Not only does it deliver antioxidants, which are good for your heart and arteries. Most of the fats in dark chocolate are the good kind like those found in olive oil, and even the bad ones appear to have a neutral effect on cholesterol. The chocolate marketing machine went to work and now, show of hands, who out there doesn’t know—at least on some level—that eating chocolate is actually good for you?

Well, back in 2001, nutrition researchers at Kansas State University published the first evidence that, even though eggs contain considerable amounts of cholesterol, the lecithin in eggs prevents the absorption of cholesterol from eggs and other sources too.

In 2004, a University of Connecticut report went further, stating that eating eggs is not related to body cholesterol levels or cardiovascular problems and recommending that “people with normal cholesterol levels and no family history of cardiovascular diseases should not worry about eating one or two eggs a day.”

How many of you knew that? Yeah, I thought so. The American Egg Board [still touting their innocuous “incredible edible egg” line, but only supporting it with the most timid, tepid information on their website] has been asleep at the wheel for seven years. There’s not word one about the cholesterol-blocking power of eggs. And all that while, we’ve all been quaking needlessly in our egg-white-omelet-eating boots.

To recap: Eggs good, not bad. Low in fat and calories, very high in quality protein. And most important, studies show that the lecithin in eggs actually prevents the absorption of cholesterol—not only from eggs, but from other sources.

So go eat some eggs. Have some dark chocolate. Wash it all down with some red wine. Just do it all in moderation—Oscar Wilde would have wanted it that way.

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10 Responses to “Cholesterol, schmolesterol—eggs are good for you”

  1. rockandrollscience Says:

    Actually, I did happen to know that eggs are good for you. It’s nicely laid out in a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Many of her ideas might sound pretty gross to some of your diners (fremented beet water springs to mind.) But it’s got some things you can tell meat-lovers to make them feel great about ordering a big fat steak. It’s also got some useful stuff like how to make more flavorful and healthful soup stocks.

  2. Terry B Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, rockandrollscience! I’m always up for more reasons to eat steak. Ultimately, so much of good eating just comes down to balance and common sense.

  3. wackos Says:

    Eggs, I love them. Yes it is true eggs are really good for your health. Eggs and sausage, eggs in salads, eggs in health drinks and on and on. Besides, eggs are a renewable resource.

  4. weightmanagement101 Says:

    Eggs are good if you eat once a week. “What is bad, however, is the amount of LDL blood cholesterol in the body. Too much of it can cause heart problems, but scientists are now discovering that consuming food rich in dietary cholesterol does not increase blood cholesterol. At least that is what some experts believe (they are somewhat disagreeing on the matter… as usual)” By Sebastien Stefanov

  5. Terry B Says:

    wackos—I love eggs too. Your response points out one of their pitfalls, though. They go so well with sausages, bacon, buttery toast or biscuits… All those things that will indeed wreak havoc with your cholesterol levels. One safe way to enjoy their protein-rich, low-fat goodness is hard boiled. I’ll sometimes have a hard-boiled egg as an afternoon snack when I want a little protein hit to carry me through to dinner.

    weightmanagement101—You’re right about the experts disagreeing [as usual]. But I’ve read more than one source that says that you’re fine eating one or two eggs a day, as long as you don’t have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Since I like eggs, those are the experts I’m agreeing with.

  6. salobrena Says:

    I eat eggs every day.. 3-4 My cholesterol is fantastic. One thing most people don’t realize, is that you don’t absorb cholesterol or fat from the foods you eat. Cholesterol is manufactured in your liver. Bad diet makes your body produce more cholesterol, and it also make you manufacture and store fat. You don’t absorb fat from food.
    Sugar is the root of all evil.

  7. erns Says:

    As someone on the Sally Fallon bandwagon, I’m a big supporter of eggs. And, I’m pretty sure I recall that free range eggs are high in HDL, the good cholesterol and low in LDL, the bad cholesterol. Apparently “conventional” eggs are the opposite. That’s just rumor, I guess, but I tend to lead toward the free range eggs anyhow because they are so tasty. Regardless, yay for eggs! And thanks for posting about them.

  8. Terry B Says:

    salobrena—Thanks for stopping by! As we all know, part of our cholesterol is determined by heredity, part by what we eat. But there are plenty of reasons besides cholesterol issues for eating healthier. It’s just nice to know that eggs can be part of that.

    erns—I hadn’t heard that about free range eggs. And honestly, I haven’t been able to tell much difference flavorwise. But if free range chickens have a better life, eating their eggs is one more way to make eggs guilt-free.

  9. Hocus Pocus Says:

    I have been an food scientist for over 20 years. I am also more recently qualified as an exercise scientist.

    Virtually everything ever told about cholesterol and heart disease is total bunkum.

    1. Your LDL cholesterol levels are GENETICALLY predetermined. Your diet has virtually NO influence.

    2. Your LDL level is TOTALLY IRRELEVANT. There is NO correlation between LDL or fat intake and heart disease.

    3. Heart disease is an inflammatory process caused by stress, oxidation and LACK OF EXERCISE not by fat or cholesterol intake

    4. People with HIGH cholesterol levels live on average LONGER than those with low cholesterol.

    5. Low LDL levels are associated with depression and immune disorders.

    6. The Masai of East Africa traditionally eat at least 400g of fat daily. This includes 100g of saturated fat. They eat no fruit, vegetables or grain. Heart disease is non-existent amongst traditional Masai. However they walk an average of 25km per day

  10. Low Cholesterol Foods Says:

    [...]Low Cholesterol Foods. When you first learned that your cholesterol level is too high, you might start to imagine the illnesses you will have to suffer if you cannot reduce the cholesterol level in your blood[...]

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