Eggs and cholesterol

26 May 2015        

Five eggs

Today's news has seen eggs back in the media, discussing their links to high cholesterol. Our Senior Dietitian, Victoria Taylor, explains that its been a while since eggs were considered a cause of high cholesterol and the best ways to have a healthy diet.

In the past it was thought that people should limit the number of eggs they eat to three to four a week because they contain cholesterol - It is the egg yolks that have the cholesterol. However, the misconceptions around eggs and cholesterol largely stemmed from incorrect conclusions drawn from early research that dietary cholesterol contributed to raised blood cholesterol levels

Part of a healthy diet

Now current research shows that for most healthy people, cholesterol in food, such as eggs, has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol, especially when compared with the much greater and more harmful effects of saturated fatty acids found in foods such as butter and fatty meat. Eggs are, in fact, low in saturated fat. Recent research  has also shown that moderate egg consumption - up to one a day - does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet.  

As such, since about 2000, major world and UK health organizations, including us and the Department of Health, changed their advice on eggs and there is now no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat, as long as you eat a varied diet. However, people with familial hypercholesterolaemia (1 in 500 in the UK) would still be advised to restrict dietary cholesterol intake - no more than three or four eggs a week.
Eggs are a nutritious food,  but you still need to need to pay attention to how the eggs are cooked and to the 'trimmings' that come with them. For example, scrambled eggs with baked beans on wholegrain bread are a far different meal than a fry up with eggs, bacon, sausage and white toast with butter.  

You can find lots of dietary advice and recipes in our magazine, Heart Matters.