Eggs...friend or foe?

03/17/2019

By Rebecca Toutant, Wellness Manager

Eggs are up for debate because they have dietary cholesterol. However, the cholesterol we eat does not necessarily raise blood cholesterol for most people. The balance of fat you eat play a much bigger role in the body’s cholesterol.

Cholesterol is a type of lipid (fat) in the body. Cholesterol helps form the lining (membrane) of the body’s cells and it plays a role in hormone production. Two subtypes of cholesterol we care a lot about are HDL (the “good” cholesterol) and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). LDL can get trapped in the lining of the artery. Over time, leading to a heart attack or stroke. HDL’s job is to help remove LDL from the body.

Can I eat eggs or not?
Yes, but in the right way. If you are regularly having an egg and reducing saturated fat in other areas of your diet, eating moderate amounts of eggs will have little impact on blood cholesterol for most people.

However, if you are adding a lot of saturated fat, such as preparing eggs with butter, cheese, adding bacon or sausage, or eating excessive amounts of eggs a day, you are going to run into issues.

Are there other satisfying breakfast or snack choices that definitely won't impact cholesterol? Absolutely! Oatmeal, low-fat plain yogurt, egg whites, fruit with modest amounts of nuts, avocado and whole wheat toast, or peanut butter on whole wheat toast are excellent choices. But taste preferences, cultural differences, allergies, and time constraints make some of these challenging.

Reasons I may encourage someone to choose eggs

  • Good source of complete protein. For people who don’t eat much red meat or high-fat dairy, eggs are a completely reasonable addition to the diet because they’re not getting much cholesterol from other sources. At seven grams of protein per whole egg, it’s a more efficient, readily absorbed protein option (more so than beans or lentils).
  • Keep you fuller for longer and are satisfying! The fat and protein content of eggs will keep you fuller longer (and prevent overeating later) compared to options like bagels, toast, cold cereal, pancakes, or waffles.
  • Eggs won’t raise blood sugar. This is a big one for my diabetic patients, especially those who don’t eat much poultry or fish. While lentils and beans have protein, they are primarily carbohydrate (which raises blood sugar).
  • Easy to prepare. They take a few minutes to cook. Hard-boiled eggs make meal and snack time simple.

Overall, yes, eggs can raise your cholesterol but not as much as saturated fat. It’s about your dietary balance in general.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.