I eat 4 eggs a day. Every. Single. Day. That’s 28 eggs a week. It’s also shocking news to anyone who hears about it (side note: my well-meaning parents are doing a good job of making my “unhealthy” eating habits known to the world).
Back to the point, the question that immediately follows when people learn this is, “How many of the yolks to you eat?” To which I reply, “All 4.” And it’s at the point that the person’s jaw drops and the topic turns to my cholesterol.
Now, while I find all this pretty amusing – it’s equally as sad. And for two reasons:
- The egg has really gotten an undeservedly bad rap throughout the years (case in point: a study – if you can even call it that – just came out that likened egg yolks to cigarettes! What a joke! But we’ll save that discussion for later).
- By believing eggs are bad, people are forgoing this superfood commonly eaten at breakfast and replacing it with some real nasty (albeit tasty) stuff: pancakes, waffles, sugary cereals, muffins, and donuts.
Listen, the egg is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. It contains everything required for a chicken to enter this world. And yes, it’s jam-packed with cholesterol: a critical nutrient you need for optimal health.
“Blasphemy!” I hear you cry, “Eggs will raise my cholesterol and clog my arteries!” Now, this is actually true… but only if you’re a rabbit!
Let me explain…
Early studies done on cholesterol (and saturated fat) did indeed show atherosclerosis (i.e. hardening/blockage of the arteries). However, these were done in rabbits. These animals have a different metabolism than humans (they’re also vegetarian) so the results aren’t all that surprising.
But with us, it’s a completely different story. For the most part, the cholesterol you eat in food has little do with the cholesterol level of your blood. How can this be? Simple. You liver produces 75%-80% of the cholesterol circulating in your blood. Now, you liver is a very smart organ (much like the rest of your organs). When you eat a diet high in cholesterol, it compensates for this by making less. When you eat a diet low in cholesterol it compensates by making more.
And you do know why?
Because cholesterol is one of the most important substances in your body (and again, critical for life). It makes up about 50% of every cell membrane. Even 12% of your brain is cholesterol. Given this, your body is not going to let this level get out of whack (unless you’re eating the wrong foods, that is; see point #2 above).
So, does that mean that eggs don’t raise your cholesterol? Not exactly, but here’s why you should still eat them – all the time. The majority of people won’t see their levels rise. However, about a third of the population is known as hyperresponders. Contrary to the former, eggs do increase their cholesterol. But get this: it’s of the good kind (the HDL). In other words, the rise is actually cardio-protective as high HDL levels are proven to protect against heart attacks, strokes, and other vascular events.
In conclusion, don’t cast this superfood aside as you’ll be missing out on a lot of nutrients. Even worse, you’ll end up replacing it with sugar – the real culprit behind cardiovascular disease. Ignore the “junk science” and enjoy your eggs – every day if you like. Your body will thank you for it, I promise.