Eggs are one of those foods that we used to think were unhealthy, but now popular knowledge, most bloggers, and YouTube “experts” are telling us that it’s okay to eat them.
For years, conventional wisdom backed by science was that cholesterol in our food is a direct cause of high cholesterol in our blood, which in turn causes heart disease.
But recently, many organizations have backed out of the belief that “dietary cholesterol causes high cholesterol” and now say that it’s not a matter of concern. Paleo bloggers, who write incendiary pamphlets with names such as the “Cholesterol Myth,” also agree with this.
1) Blood cholesterol is linked to heart disease. Even Paleo bloggers have a hard time denying that truth.
2) The real question is what causes high cholesterol and does dietary cholesterol influence blood cholesterol?
Why the big fuss around cholesterol and eggs? It’s simple: eggs are the most concentrated source of cholesterol food in the typical American diet. Other foods contain more saturated fat, but eggs are packed with cholesterol (with over 200 mg per egg). All the cholesterol is concentrated in the yolk and not found in the white.
It would make intuitive sense that eating cholesterol might have an impact on our blood cholesterol, adding to the cholesterol that our bodies already produce. That was just what all the early studies on the topic have proved.
But here’s what caused the controversy: There have been many studies and meta-analysis studies funded by the American Egg Board and designed to exonerate eggs from all harm.
These studies look like this:
- We take a group of people eating a standard American diet.
- These people have “normal” cholesterol levels.
- We add eggs to these people’s diets and see what the effect will be on cholesterol.
- There is minimal effect, so then we claim that dietary cholesterol has no impact on blood cholesterol.
What’s wrong with these studies?
The group of people used in those studies already consumes a diet that causes elevated cholesterol.
In these studies, people start with an average cholesterol level of 244 mg/dl! (Much above the current guidelines).
Because of a “plateau” effect of cholesterol, there is no impact on blood cholesterol when adding eggs, and more cholesterol to the diet.
In other words: these people were already consuming cholesterol and saturated fats from other sources, and they had high cholesterol, like most Americans. Adding more cholesterol to a diet already containing 400 mg/day will rarely cause even more elevated cholesterol levels.
I choose not to listen to the “wisdom” of egg-industry funded studies. I spent some time reviewing the studies, and they all suffer from the flaws I have outlined.
The Egg Industry will continue funding studies to “prove” that eggs are healthy and those studies will get media attention. Diet gurus will always generally promote a diet of animal products because that’s what people want. On top of that, the contrarian approach is more popular — claiming that “common wisdom is wrong.”