Emily and I are often asked whether you should avoid eggs if you have high cholesterol. Our answer is “no”, and a new study has confirmed that our advice is backed up by research.
It’s true that eggs do contain a relatively high amount of cholesterol, but cholesterol from food has little impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.
Some people carry a gene that makes them more susceptible to high cholesterol, but in this new study from Finland, they found that even people with this gene could safely eat one egg a day with no negative impact.
So what does raise cholesterol levels?
Being overweight or obese leads to raised LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as does lack of exercise so reaching a healthy weight and being active is a high priority.
An overall poor diet can affect your cholesterol levels. It’s important to eat healthy fats, such as olive oil, avocado, oily fish, nuts and seeds, and reduce saturated and trans-fats (fried foods, margarines and spreads, fatty meats). Also cut down on sugar, and up your intake of vitamins and minerals from fruit and vegetables to keep blood vessels and arteries healthy.
Smoking and high alcohol consumption can both lead to high LDL cholesterol, so give up if you can.
It is the job of the liver to control cholesterol levels, and eating a Mediterranean Diet incorporating a wide variety of vegetables, garlic, herbs and spices has been shown to reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver which improves liver function.
A final word on eggs – luckily the awful days of caged battery hens are over as this farming practice is now banned in Europe, and antibiotics are not allowed in the egg food chain. The risk of salmonella has been eradicated in eggs by the British Lion scheme, and these eggs are stamped with the British Lion mark. Whether you buy organic, free range or normal eggs is up to you. I buy mine from @Riverford Farm (they come with my veg box) and they are organic and delicious, and I often get the nice surprise of a double yolk.
For more information about our talk on Heart Health please call us on 07966 478974.
J. K. Virtanen, J. Mursu, H. E. Virtanen, M. Fogelholm, J. T. Salonen, T. T. Koskinen, S. Voutilainen, T.-P. Tuomainen. Associations of egg and cholesterol intakes with carotid intima-media thickness and risk of incident coronary artery disease according to apolipoprotein E phenotype in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2016; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.115.122317