We all know that eggs are a good source of quality protein. They also contain 11 vitamins and minerals, and are a source of healthy fats including omega-3 fats.
The big hype around eggs over the years has been in regards to their cholesterol content and how consuming them they may increase your blood cholesterol levels. Firstly, cholesterol is often seen as a negative word. When people hear it, they usually link it to medication, heart attacks and early death.
However, the truth is that cholesterol is a very important part of the body and for good health. It is a structural molecule that is an essential part of every single cell membrane. It is used to make steroid hormones such as testosterone, oestrogen and cortisol, it helps your metabolism work efficiently and it produces bile acids, which help the body digest fat, and absorb important nutrients. The truth is without cholesterol, we wouldn’t even exist.
Although we obtain little cholesterol through our diet and the foods we eat, our liver is responsible for making most of the cholesterol that’s in our bodies. One large egg (60g) contains approximately 200mg cholesterol. There is currently no set Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for cholesterol but it has been clinically proven that the cholesterol in eggs has almost no effect on our blood cholesterol levels and are more influenced by the saturated and trans-fat we eat.
However, it’s important to note that some people are more sensitive to eating cholesterol in their diet and its effect on their blood cholesterol level (usually those with a genetic predisposition and some health conditions). This means that when they eat food containing cholesterol, their LDL cholesterol levels rise more than other people. If you want to know your cholesterol level and how to manage it, make an appointment with your GP or health practitioner.
In regards to fat content of eggs, a typical serve (two large eggs) will provide a total fat intake of approximately 10.3g, which is 15% of your RDI. Of that total fat, 3.4g is saturated fat, 5.3g is monounsaturated fat and 1.7g is polyunsaturated fat. As you can see, most the fat in eggs is the healthy unsaturated fat that we require for good health. Eggs do not contain any trans-fats, which are the inflammatory fats that cause your LDL cholesterol to rise. Eggs also contain approximately 0.18g of omega-3 fatty acids. per serve. These are the healthy, anti-inflammatory fats, which are important for reducing risk of heart disease.
Bottom line: don’t be afraid to consume eggs because of their cholesterol content. Just because a food is high in cholesterol, it doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol levels in the blood. If you’re concerned about elevated cholesterol levels, it’s probably more important to look at the amount of saturated fat and trans-fats you’re consuming.