Ask Amelia

Do Eggs Really Raise Cholesterol?

high cholesterol foods

Thirty years ago we thought eggs, shellfish, and other high cholesterol foods raised cholesterol, but now we know that’s not really true.  The main factor in raising or lowering cholesterol is saturated fat.  Excess saturated fat is converted into cholesterol by the liver.  So, when you eat too much cheese, meat, cream, and other fatty animal products, your cholesterol will likely go up.

To lower cholesterol through diet, you can limit saturated fats and eat plenty of fiber, since the naturally occurring soluble fiber found in fruits, veggies, and true whole grains helps to sweep cholesterol out of the bloodstream.

So, keep on enjoying eggs (in moderation, up to 7 per week) without worry.  Just make sure to buy sustainably farmed eggs so you know you’re getting a healthy product.  Check this Organic Egg Scorecard to make sure the organic eggs you’re buying are truly organic.

Note: high-fiber packaged foods (like granola bars, yogurt, and other fiber-added foods) are not proven to help lower cholesterol, since they contain mostly synthetic fiber, not naturally-occuring soluble fiber.  So stick with real food instead.

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  • Jeremy
    September 19, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    I’ve been trying to get this through to people for months! It’s so hard to get past what people THINK they know, especially when they are scared of something. Eggs are pretty much the best protein you can get and full of other great nutrients! Awesome post 😉

  • Amelia
    September 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    Glad we’re both trying to get the right messages across, Jeremy!

  • David Brown
    November 12, 2012 at 5:57 am

    Hi Amelia,

    You wrote, “The main factor in raising or lowering cholesterol is saturated fat. Excess saturated fat is converted into cholesterol by the liver.”

    Actually, it’s far more complicated than that. To begin with, only three chain lengths of saturated fat alter cholesterol levels(1) and the effect is small compared to other dietary factors(2). Additionally, the amount of saturated fat that appears in the bloodstream after a meal is more closely related to carbohydrate intake than saturated fat intake(3). Finally, how one is physiologically and biochemically configured determines one’s lipid response to fats and carbohydrates(4).

    References and notes
    4. ” It was necessary to raise the daily carbohydrate intake to 85-90% of the total daily caloric intake in order to induce hyperglyceridemia in normolipemic subjects.”

  • Amelia
    November 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Hi David,
    Thanks for your comment and links. I will thoroughly read all of these. I do still maintain that saturated fat intake is one of the primary determinants of blood cholesterol levels, along with exercise, fiber intake and some other factors.

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