HOW MANY EGGS CAN YOU SAFELY EAT?

AND DOES IT MATTER IF YOU HAVE HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

In my view eggs have been given a very bad rap for years.  I grew up in an environment where eggs were almost considered as ‘bad’ and something to be avoided.  A food likely to give you high cholesterol and a food that you should positively avoid if you already had an issue with cholesterol. 

When I see people in clinic I often recommend meal ideas that includes eggs.  They are a quick and easy option and make a good fridge staple.  However, when I do this nearly everyone will ask how many eggs can they eat in a week to be ‘safe’.

The reality is that the view on eggs has changed and there is sound research to back up that they are a great food to eat.  The Government’s own website also declares that they are ‘a good choice as part of a healthy, balanced diet’ and ‘there is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat’

DOES IT MATTER IF YOU HAVE HIGH CHOLESTEROL?

A recent study published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care demonstrated no link with egg consumption and cholesterol levels in 70% of the population.  However for the remaining 30% of the population (they called them hyper responders) eggs did increase both total and LDL (or  so called ‘bad’ cholesterol). 

So are eggs a ‘problem’ for some people who fall into this 30%?  Not if you look into it a little further.  We have been led to believe that any increase in LDL will increase our risk of heart disease.  However, this is a bit of an unsophisticated way of looking at the problem.  It turns out that LDL comes in different forms – small and dense (type B = bad) and large and fluffy (type A = good).  Eggs influence the large and fluffy type of LDL.

So as far as cholesterol is concerned eggs are not something to be worried about.  Although eggs do contain cholesterol this does not contribute to raising cholesterol levels.  The key influence over your cholesterol levels is your liver not the food that you eat. 

I do think that it is important to know where your eggs have come from.  Ideally they should be organic and from hens that have been allowed to run around in pastures.  Why do I say this?  If they are not organic then there is a good chance that the chickens are dosed with antibiotics as an over populated environment makes them more likely to get sick.  Animals raised on pastures contain higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids (the essential fat that we are often deficient in).  Often your local farmers market will be a good source for these types of eggs.

Look out for ‘organic’ ‘grass fed’ and ‘free range’ labeling when buying in your supermarket.