For years and years there have been an intense discussion among scientists and doctors concerning the correlation between eggs and bad cholesterol. An egg yolk consists mainly of cholesterol as oil-based fat, and its main purpose is nutrition for the chicken fetus. For humans, cholesterol can be both good and bad. It is present in every cell and plays an important role in our bodies. It allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, it creates bile acids in our digestive system, it helps the body to produce hormones, and it helps to build the structure of the cell walls. The substance is essential for our survival, but if the concentration of cholesterol fat gets to high in our blood vessels it can suddenly become a health risk. So the question is, are eggs fattening for our blood and how many eggs can I eat per day?
Why is high cholesterol bad?
When the concentration of cholesterol in your blood vessels gets too high, the vessels clog and become to narrow, which causes the heart problems pumping the blood around in your body. Clogged and narrowed blood vessels, or atherosclerosis as it is called scientifically, is a gradual process that can start as early as in adolescence.
If you have too much cholesterol in your blood vessels it can injure the vessels, which causes an inflammatory reaction and white blood cells increase to protect the body. When the white blood cells enter the artery wall they transform in to foam cells containing fat and cholesterol, and will eventually slow down the blood flow. This dramatically increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, heart attack and stroke.
New research on eggs and cholesterol
Professor Norrina Allen (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) recently shared the results of a large study. People from different states across the US, different ages and different ethnicity has been monitored for a very long time when it comes to their habits. Mainly the findings are that eating 3-4 eggs per week increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases with 6%. On the other hand Professor Allen says more studies has to be done. The U.S. dietary guidelines states there isn’t any appreciable relationship between your blood levels of cholesterol and your diet.
Norrina Allen:“We know that for some individuals that’s true. The issue is that it’s highly variable. There are some people who can eat a lot of cholesterol and their body metabolizes it quickly. For other people, that’s not true. The more cholesterol that they eat, the more cholesterol that will be absorbed by their body. And there’s very different patterns in the relationship between the cholesterol you eat and the cholesterol in your blood. So we believe that there is a stronger relationship between the food you eat and the cholesterol in your blood among individuals, for example, who are overweight. The liver just has enough fat in it that it can’t absorb any more cholesterol from the diet and it gets put into the blood.”
Professor Allens report is not valid enough to make changes in the U.S. dietary guidelines. There are not enough studies made when it comes to the effects of lifestyle issues, which is known to be a main cause to high cholesterol.
Risks of an unhealthy lifestyle
Earlier research points to that some people with a healthy lifestyle can consume high-cholesterol products without getting an increased level of cholesterol in the blood. If you have a balanced diet, exercise regularly, do not smoke, hold back on the drinking, do not stress continuously and do not have hereditary diseases, you will most likely not be as affected of high-level cholesterol food as a person with an unhealthy lifestyle.
On the contrary; people that smoke, drink, never exercise, are obese, eat unhealthy food or have diabetes (or hereditary diseases) are at severe risk for cardiovascular diseases, stroke and heart attack when consuming high-cholesterol food on top of that.
I want to share a personal experience a had a couple of years back. I have always had a somewhat sensitive stomach. Suddenly I started getting severe problems with my digestive system. Every time I ate my stomach bloated, I got terrible cramps in my stomach and had to run to the bathroom 6-12 times a day. This went on for a couple of months and finally I went to the doctor. They performed gastroscopy and colonoscopy, and then diagnosed me with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). There isn’t really any treatment for IBS except avoiding things that are not good for you. So I quit eating dairy products. I quit eating meat. I quit eating vegetables. Nothing helped. The only thing I could eat without getting cramps and diarrhea was eggs and banana. So that’s what I did. I eat eggs and banana morning, day and night, month after month. Two eggs and a banana for breakfast. Two eggs and a banana for lunch. Two eggs and a banana for supper.
To make a long story short… after 6 months my stomach was as good as perfect and I started eating a more varied diet. (I still don’t eat meat and dairy products except 2-3 times a month.) But I was worried from all my egg consumption, so I asked the doctor to check my cholesterol level. It was perfect! After eating 6 eggs a day for 6 months the cholesterol levels were exactly as they should. To this day I still eat 10-15 eggs a week.
So how to think about egg consumption?
If you have a lifestyle meaning you don’t take very good care of your body, you will most likely fall in the range of people who should be careful with their egg consumption. You are probably at risk for cardiovascular diseases and need to look into your overall diet and lifestyle.
If you are a healthy person with a healthy lifestyle you can probably keep eating your eggs and don’t worry. Overdoing something is never good whether it’s eggs or something else, but as long as you have a varied and nutritious diet you don’t need to worry. And a good way to find out how you’re doing is actually to have your doctor check your cholesterol levels.