Are whole eggs and egg yolks bad for you or good?

Depending on who you ask, whole eggs are healthy or unhealthy.

On the one hand, they are considered an excellent and economical source of proteins and various nutrients.

On the other hand, many people believe that the buds can increase the risk of heart disease.

So, are the eggs good or bad for your health? This article explores both sides of the argument.

Why is it sometimes considered that the eggs are not healthy?

Whole eggs have two main components:

  • Egg white: The white part, which is mostly protein.
  • Bud: The yellow / orange part, which contains all kinds of nutrients.

The main reason why eggs were considered unhealthy in the past is that the yolks have a high cholesterol content.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in food and is also produced by your body. A few decades ago, large studies linked high blood cholesterol with heart disease.

In 1961, the American Heart Association recommended limiting dietary cholesterol. Many other international health organizations did the same.

In the coming decades, the global consumption of eggs decreased significantly. Many people replaced eggs with cholesterol-free egg substitutes that were promoted as a healthier option.

Bottom line: For several decades, eggs were believed to increase the risk of heart disease due to their high cholesterol content.

It is true that whole eggs are high in cholesterol

Whole eggs (with the yolks) are undeniably high in cholesterol. In fact, they are the main source of cholesterol in the diet of most people.

Two large whole eggs (100 grams) contain approximately 422 mg of cholesterol (1).

In contrast, 100 grams of ground beef with 30% fat have only about 88 mg of cholesterol (2).

Until very recently, the maximum recommended daily intake of cholesterol was 300 mg per day. It was even less for people with heart disease.

However, according to the latest research, health organizations in many countries no longer recommend restricting cholesterol intake.

For the first time in decades, the US Dietary Guidelines UU Published in January 2016, they did not specify a higher daily limit for dietary cholesterol.

Despite this change, many people remain concerned about the consumption of eggs.

This is because they have been conditioned to associate the high consumption of dietary cholesterol with high blood cholesterol and heart disease.

That said, just because a food is high in cholesterol, it does not necessarily raise cholesterol levels. in the blood.

Bottom line: Two large whole eggs contain 422 mg of cholesterol, which exceeds the maximum daily limit that was applied for many decades. However, this restriction on dietary cholesterol has now been eliminated.

How to eat eggs affects blood cholesterol

Although it may seem logical that dietary cholesterol increases blood cholesterol levels, it usually does not work that way.

Your liver actually produces cholesterol in large quantities, because cholesterol is a necessary nutrient for your cells.

When you eat larger amounts of cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs, your liver simply starts to produce less cholesterol (3, 4).

Conversely, when you get little cholesterol from food, your liver produces more.

Because of this, blood cholesterol levels do not change significantly in most people when they eat more cholesterol from food (5).

Also, keep in mind that cholesterol is not a "bad" substance. Actually, it is involved in various processes in the body, such as:

  • Vitamin D production
  • Production of steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
  • Production of bile acids, which help digest fats.

Last but not least, cholesterol is found in each cell membrane In your body. Without it, humans would not exist.

Bottom line: When you eat eggs or other foods rich in cholesterol, your liver produces less cholesterol. As a result, your blood cholesterol levels are likely to remain almost the same or increase only slightly.

Do eggs increase the risk of heart disease?

Several controlled studies have examined how eggs affect risk factors for heart disease. The findings are mostly positive or neutral.

Studies show that eating 1-2 whole eggs per day does not seem to change cholesterol levels or risk factors for heart disease (6, 7, 8).

In addition, consuming eggs as part of a low-carbohydrate diet improves markers of heart disease in people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. This includes the size and shape of LDL particles (9, 10, 11).

One study followed pre-diabetics who were on a carbohydrate-restricted diet. Those who consumed whole eggs experienced better insulin sensitivity and greater improvements in markers of heart health than those who ate egg whites (10).

In another study, prediabetic people on low-carbohydrate diets ate 3 eggs per day for 12 weeks. They had fewer inflammatory markers than those who consumed an egg substitute with an identical diet (11).

Although LDL ("bad") cholesterol tends to remain the same or increase slightly when eggs are eaten, HDL ("good") cholesterol generally increases (10, 12, 13).

In addition, eating eggs enriched with omega-3 can help lower triglyceride levels (14, 15).

The research also suggests that eating eggs on a regular basis can be safe for people who already have heart disease.

One study followed 32 people with heart disease. They did not experience negative effects on heart health after consuming 2 whole eggs per day for 12 weeks (16).

To make matters worse, a review of 17 observational studies with a total of 263,938 people found no association between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke (17).

Bottom line: Studies have shown that egg consumption generally has beneficial or neutral effects on the risk of heart disease.

Do eggs increase the risk of diabetes?

Controlled studies show that eggs can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce risk factors for heart disease in people with prediabetes.

However, there is conflicting research on egg consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

A review of two studies with more than 50,000 adults found that those who consumed at least one egg per day were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who ate less than one egg per week (18).

A second study in women found an association between high consumption of dietary cholesterol and increased risk of diabetes, but not specifically for eggs (19).

The large observational study mentioned above that found no link between heart attacks and strokes actually found a 54% increased risk of heart disease when only those with diabetes were observed (17).

According to these studies, eggs could be problematic for diabetic or prediabetic people.

However, it is important to keep in mind that these are observational studies based on self-reported food intake.

They only show a association between the consumption of eggs and a higher probability of developing diabetes. This type of studies can not prove that eggs caused anything.

In addition, these studies do not tell us what else people who developed diabetes were eating, how much exercise they did, or what other risk factors they had.

In fact, controlled studies have found that eating eggs along with a healthy diet can benefit people with diabetes.

In one study, people with diabetes who ate a diet high in protein and cholesterol that contained 2 eggs per day experienced reductions in fasting blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure, along with an increase in HDL cholesterol ( twenty).

Other studies link egg consumption with improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduction of inflammation in people with prediabetes and diabetes (10, 21).

Bottom line: Studies on eggs and diabetes provide mixed results. Several observational studies show an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, while controlled trials show an improvement in several health markers.

Your genes can affect the way you respond to egg consumption

Although eggs do not pose a risk to health in most people, it has been suggested that those with certain genetic traits may be different.

However, there is not much research on this.

The apoE4 gene

People who carry a gene known as ApoE4 have an increased risk of high cholesterol, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer's disease (22, 23).

An observational study of more than 1,000 men found no association between high egg or cholesterol consumption and the risk of heart disease in ApoE4 carriers (24).

A controlled study followed people with normal cholesterol levels. A high intake of eggs, or 750 mg of cholesterol per day, increased total and LDL cholesterol levels in ApoE4 carriers more than twice that in people without the gene (25).

However, these people ate around 3.5 eggs per day for three weeks. It is possible that eating 1 or 2 eggs has caused less dramatic changes.

It is also possible that the increase in cholesterol levels in response to high egg intakes is temporary.

One study found that when ApoE4 carriers with normal cholesterol experienced higher levels of cholesterol in their blood in response to a high cholesterol diet, their bodies began to produce less cholesterol to compensate (26).

Familial hypercholesterolemia

A genetic condition known as familial hypercholesterolemia is characterized by very high levels of cholesterol in the blood and an increased risk of heart disease (27).

According to experts, reducing cholesterol levels is very important for people with this condition. It often requires a combination of diet and medication.

People with familial hypercholesterolemia may need to avoid eggs.

Dietary cholesterol Hyper-responders

A number of people are considered "hyperresponders" to dietary cholesterol. This means that your blood cholesterol levels increase when you eat more cholesterol.

Often, HDL and LDL cholesterol levels increase in this group of people when they consume eggs or other foods high in cholesterol (28, 29).

However, some studies report that LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol increased significantly in patients who responded with hyperactivity and increased their egg intake, but HDL remained stable (30, 31).

On the other hand, a group of hyper-responders who consumed 3 eggs per day for 30 days had mainly an increase in large LDL particles, which are not considered as harmful as small LDL particles (32).

In addition, hyper-responders can absorb more antioxidants located in the yellow pigment of the egg yolk. These can benefit ocular and cardiac health (33).

Bottom line: People with certain genetic traits can see a greater increase in their cholesterol levels after eating eggs.

The eggs are loaded with nutrients

Eggs also have a ton of nutrients and health benefits that should be mentioned when considering the health effects of eggs.

They are a great source of high quality protein, as well as several important vitamins and minerals.

A large whole egg contains (1):

  • Calories: 72
  • Protein: 6 grams.
  • Vitamin A: 5% of the RDI.
  • Riboflavin: 14% of the RDI.
  • B12 vitamin: 11% of the RDI.
  • Folate 6% of the RDI.
  • Iron: 5% of the RDI.
  • Selenium: 23% of the RDI.

Then they contain many other nutrients in small amounts. In fact, eggs contain a bit of almost everything the human body needs.

Bottom line: Eggs are rich in a number of important vitamins and minerals, along with high quality proteins.

Eggs have many health benefits

Studies show that eating eggs can have several health benefits. These include:

  • Help keep you full: Several studies show that eggs promote fullness and help control hunger so that you eat less at your next meal (34, 35, 36).
  • Promote weight loss: The high quality protein in the eggs increases the metabolic rate and can help you lose weight (37, 38, 39).
  • Protect brain health: Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which is important for your brain (40, 41).
  • Reduce the risk of eye disease: Lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs help protect against eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration (13, 42, 43).
  • Decrease inflammation: Eggs can reduce inflammation, which is linked to several diseases (11, 20).

You can read more in this article: 10 Evidence-based health benefits of eggs.

Bottom line: Eggs help you stay full, can promote weight loss and protect your brain and eyes. They can also reduce inflammation.

The eggs are super healthy (for most people)

In general, eggs are one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods you can eat.

In most cases, they do not increase cholesterol levels much. Even when they do, they often raise HDL (the "good") cholesterol and modify the shape and size of LDL in a way that reduces the risk of disease.

However, as with most things in nutrition, this may not apply to everyone and some people may need to limit their egg consumption.

More on eggs:

  • Eggs and cholesterol: how many eggs can you eat safely?
  • 10 proven health benefits of eggs (No. 1 is my favorite)
  • Why eggs are a killer weight loss food
  • 7 high cholesterol foods that are very healthy

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