Eggs are once again in the media’s spotlight, just in time for the traditional dying for the Easter baskets, and slipping into our Mother’s Day Brunches. As a Dietitian/Nutritionist I hold onto the one steadfast truth about the egg that will never change which is the fact, eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on earth. Eggs are superfoods and referred to as the Gold standard for protein because it has all 9 Essential Amino Acids in the correct proportion as no other source of protein other than mother’s milk. Eggs are also high in the two powerful antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are essential for protecting the health of the eyes.
Here we go again: A group of investigators published in the March issue of JAMA that higher consumption of dietary cholesterol or eggs was significantly associated with higher risk or incident CVD and all-cause mortality in a dose-response manner. The results should be considered in the development of dietary guidelines and updates. The rationale for all the numerous studies performed on eggs is due to the 213 mg of cholesterol found in one egg. Previous scientific evidence has shown “there is no connection between an elevated risk of heart disease and egg intake.”
Review of Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a waxy-like substance that is made in the liver by all animals including humans. As a result, Cholesterol is found in all meats, fish, poultry, eggs and milk/butter, anything derived from an animal source. Some may rationalize that eating foods high in Cholesterol would increase blood cholesterol levels, but this is not how the body works. Studies have shown that when dietary intake of cholesterol goes down, your liver makes more, and when you eat more significant amounts of cholesterol, your body makes less. The body maintains homeostasis by tightly regulating the amount of cholesterol in the blood by controlling its production. Therefore, foods high in dietary cholesterol have minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels in ordinary people.
However, there are always exceptions to every rule. We are all individuals what works for one may not work for another. This principle applies to dietary cholesterol absorption. There are some of “us” known in the literature as hyper-responders where high-cholesterol foods do cause a rise in blood cholesterol. I am one of the 25% of the population who is sensitive to cholesterol known as a (hyper-responder). As I continue to limit/restrict high cholesterol foods, my liver has the propensity to make more than I need. Hyper-responder is a known genetic defect-one of the genes I inherited from my father as we both shared the diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia. In contrast, my husband consumes as many as 6-7 eggs per week in addition to other high cholesterol foods maintains normal serum cholesterol. “One size does not fit all.”
In summary, yes, eggs contain two-thirds of the limit of the 300 mg of cholesterol recommended for a day and is one of the healthiest foods made however research show one size does not fit all. As a rule, for 75% of the population, the dietary cholesterol absorption rate is minimal.
One thing to remember “All things in moderation.” If you have a diagnosis of hypercholesterolemia seek the counsel of both a registered dietitian and your physician. In our situation as hyper-responders, diet alone will not lower serum cholesterol due to the metabolic involvement of the intricate pathways of fat metabolism. The egg will always be the Gold standard for protein; it is natures Incredible Edible Egg, Choose wisely.