07/15/2009 - Questions and Answers

Cholesterol in eggs?

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Question

Can you tell me if the cholesterol found in eggs is HDL ("the good cholesterol") or LDL ("the bad cholesterol")?

 

Answer

This question and answer came from Dr Irene (see first link below).
 

You are confusing cholesterol in the diet (found in foods such as eggs), with types of lipid molecules found in your blood, HDL (the "good" cholesterol) and LDL (the "bad" cholesterol). Eggs contain dietary cholesterol. The terms HDL and LDL do NOT apply to cholesterol in food.
 

The terms HDL (High Density Lipoproteins) and LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) describe substances in your blood. LDL is nicknamed bad cholesterol because this molecule is high in fat content (that is why it is called low-density - it literally can float on top of your blood). LDL carries cholesterol and deposits it to body tissues. HDL is called good cholesterol because it transports cholesterol back to the liver where it is converted into bile. High levels of LDL cholesterol are associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, while high levels of HDL cholesterol have been shown to decrease those risks.
 

Perhaps you are really asking if eating eggs will increase your bad or LDL cholesterol. Eggs alone will not increase blood cholesterol values in most people. Although one whole egg contains about 200 mg cholesterol, dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. A much stronger link has been established between dietary consumption of saturated fat (the kind found primarily in foods such as meat, butter, and processed snacks), and blood cholesterol. A diet high in saturated fat has been shown to raise LDL levels while lowering levels of HDL cholesterol.
 

For most people, a recommended diet to prevent high cholesterol levels is one that is low in saturated fat (<10% total caloric intake) and can include up to 300 mg of dietary cholesterol each day. Although one egg has 200 mg of cholesterol, it is important to remember that all of the cholesterol is contained in the egg yolk. An egg white has no cholesterol. Thus, if you are concerned but enjoy a large omelet, combine several egg whites with one egg yolk. This is an easy way to enjoy the nutrition and cooking versatility of eggs.

 

Related Links
Dr Irene's 'Tidbits' Newsletter subscription

More articles about Cholesterol

Created on: 11/30/2004
Reviewed on: 07/15/2009

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