The “Cholesterol Con”–Eggs

In the past, I have written about the “cholesterol con” (part 1), the widespread  belief that high levels of “bad  (LDL)  cholesterol” can cause heart attacks. As I have explained (part 2), the myth has generated enormous profits for many commercial interests, including companies that peddle statins. (Please read both parts of the post.)   No surprise, manufacturers  have poured millions of dollars into perpetuating the myth, and  thus have succeed in convincing a great many Americans that they should avoid high-cholesterol foods–including eggs.

According to Harvard University’s Harvard Heart Letter, however, it is not the cholesterol in eggs or other food that’s a major culprit. It’s saturated and trans fats (which our bodies may convert to artery-clogging cholesterol).

Today, as my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I celebrated Father ‘s Day with a brunch that featured “perfect scrambled eggs” (here is the recipe), fresh fruit and mini-bagels, I regaled them what I had just learned by reading  “Heart Sisters.” (Okay, “regaled” is the wrong word. My son and husband are not quite as interested in healthcare topics as I am. But my daughter-in-law—who is from the South, has lovely manners, and a kind heart — is always extremely interested in what I have to say.)

On Heart Sisters, Carolyn Thomas (a Mayo-Clinic trained heart attack survivor) lays out what Harvard’s cardiologists tell us about the egg:

“Fact: Eggs are a good source of nutrients. One egg contains six grams of protein and some healthful unsaturated fats. Eggs are also a good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.

“Myth: Eating eggs is bad for your heart. The only large study to look at the impact on heart disease of eating up to six eggs per week (reported in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) found no connection between the two. In people with diabetes, though, egg-a-day eaters were slightly more likely to have developed heart disease than diabetics who rarely ate eggs.  (Ed. note: Quelle surprise . . . this study was done on men only).

“Fact: Eggs do have a lot of cholesterol. The average large egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol. As foods go, that’s quite a bit, rivaled only by single servings of liver, shrimp, and duck meat. Your daily cholesterol maximum intake should be below 300 mg.

“Myth: All that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Not so. For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. Saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.

“So if you like eggs, the Harvard Heart Letter says that eating one a day should be okay, especially if you cut back on saturated and trans fats, plus dietary cholesterol from other sources such as red meat.

“Other ways to enjoy eggs without worrying about cholesterol include not eating the yolk, which contains all the egg’s cholesterol.” (Note: II personally like to have two eggs for breakfast poached, soft-boiled or fried in just a little butter two or three times a week. I eat mainly the whites just dipping them in the runny yolk. In this way, I consume just one yolk–MM.

Happy Father’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

9 thoughts on “The “Cholesterol Con”–Eggs

  1. Thanks Maggie for the mention/link to my Heart Sisters egg post! One of our favourite things in life is the occasional Sunday brunch at a local seaside restaurant where we always order the same thing (Eggs Benny, Hollandaise on the side, please!) We marvel at how the chef manages to poach our yolks to exactly the right amount of runny-ness – no matter how many of us at the table are ordering the same thing! Not a small feat in any kitchen…

    Enjoy your eggs!
    regards,
    C.

  2. Carolyn-

    Thank you! I’m so glad you saw the post. I have read “Heart Sisters” in the past and like it very much.

    Poached eggs (made right) with Hollandaise on the side sounds wonderful. (Most Eggs Benedict recipes drench the eggs in the sauce, turning the dish into a soggy mess.)

    I’ll think of you the next time I’m having eggs!

    P.S, If you would ever like to write a guest-post about
    heart disease on HealthBeat, please email me at
    maggiemahar2@gmail.com

    • Thank you maggie,
      I like omelet in break fast. But the doctors say take without yolk. can think it how sad for man who loves it.

      • Mamoon–

        If you have never had a heart attack, medical research suggests that your doctor is mistaken.
        Try going to another doctor for a second opinion.

  3. Maggie:

    I do like a nice omelet with veggies in it. Sunday at Camp Lejeune was brunch and dinner day. For brunch you could get the eggs of you choice. Mine was Western style omelet – 3 eggs. I never liked the other stuff; but an omelet, you can eat almost any time of the day.

    How is the Alzheimer post going? Looking forward to reading it. 🙂

    Bill

    • I sometimes have an omelet with sweet red peppers and onions for dinner.
      A high-protein, low calorie meal.

      I’ll return to the Alzheimer’s post next week. This week I took a detour to look at the implications of
      Cantor’s defeat. It doesn’t mean immigration reform is dead. It doesn’t mean that the Tea Party is
      stronger than many thought. It does mean that the nation is polarized–but that is a good thing.
      Polarization helps clarify the issues–and what’s at stake. These days conservative Republicans are making it very clear what they are
      willing to sacrifice for the sake of their ideology.

      • Maggie:

        I go up against the Tea baggers in the County Weekly Reader frequently on the PPACA, the VA, the economy, state taxes (Michigan can not get much lower for businesses), etc.

        I am told by a fellow writer I am educating people with my words. It is the same old, same old who always appear to call names or scoff. It is tedious; but, some one has to challenge and tell the truth.

        Looking forward to putting yours up on AB.

  4. We eat eggs regularly but after my occlusion of my lad my internist and cardiologist asked I try again…I felt I had cognitive dysfunction on statin. Cholesterol is an important deliverer of lots of pieces which make up important cholesterol like chemicals.
    After a month on Crestor my level was under seventy…I thought that low a level is not consistent with life so I cut the dose in half.
    My sister age 80 in two weeks retired as chair of biochemistry, and then spent nine years as Dean in Oman. Years ago the earlier measures of lipids, followers of Fredrickson, tested her lipids. ,when they were normal the query was ,”how? What do you eat ?” She said eggs and bacon and they were dumbfounded. Genetics as well as many other factors play a bigger role than diet.

    • Richard Scott–

      Thank your for your comment.

      All very true!

      “They were dumbfounded”– good physicians understand that medicine is still an infant science.