The truth about eggs and cholesterol
Our senior dietitian, Victoria Taylor, cracks the myths in
recent stories about eggs and cholesterol.
Egg-lovers are bound to have been delighted with a raft of
media reports this week that eggs now contain less cholesterol
than they used to.
We all know that raised cholesterol is bad for our heart, so the much
quoted 13 per cent reduction over the last decade sounds
like it should be great news.
But in their scramble to cook up an
eggscellent story, the media missed the point.
In the past there have been restrictions on
the advised number of eggs people should eat in a
week. This was because we thought cholesterol in our bodies
was directly caused by cholesterol in our food.
As research has developed, however, we now
know that much of the excess cholesterol in our bodies is actually
produced by eating too much saturated fat rather than
eating too much cholesterol.
So while too many fried eggs and cheesy
omelettes may risk raising your cholesterol, it’s actually the
added fat from the frying or the addition of cheese, which is
high in saturated fat, that’s the problem. Poached, boiled
or scrambled eggs (without butter) are all absolutely fine
and there are no restrictions on how many we should eat as part of
a balanced diet.
While the average Brit only eats about 2 to 3 eggs a week, our intake of saturated fat still exceeds the recommended maximums
are things like dairy
products including full fat cheese or whole milk, fats like butter,
lard and ghee, fatty cuts of meat or meat products and the skin on
chicken. Products like biscuits, cakes and pastries can also be
high in saturated fat too.
We can still enjoy these, but by choosing
reduced fat options such as semi skimmed, skimmed
or 1% milk, low fat yoghurts and reduced fat cheese as well as
making sure we remove visible fat and skin from meat and poultry
and reading food labels on ready-made products we can make
If you are worried about your
cholesterol, cutting back on saturated fat is likely to
make more of an impact on your diet than cutting back on the amount
of eggs you eat.
While the average Brit only eats about 2 to 3
eggs a week, our intake of saturated fat still exceeds the
So, this latest story is all a bit of a
storm in an egg cup really. The fact that eggs are
lower in cholesterol now than they were previously is interesting.
But it doesn’t make any difference to our advice – it’s still about
how you cook your eggs, rather than how much cholesterol is in