The Great Egg Debate
By Peter Jaret
What you should know about eggs and dietary cholesterol.
When experts first began to warn about the dangers of high cholesterol, eggs took a beating, along with other high-cholesterol foods like shrimp. Since they’re high in dietary cholesterol, the thinking went, these foods must contribute to cholesterol in the blood. So for years they were banished from heart-healthy menus. Then new research came along, weakening the link between dietary and blood cholesterol and pointing an accusing finger instead at saturated and trans fats.
The egg message, for one, began to seem, well, a little scrambled. In fact, scientists still disagree when it comes to eggs. Some studies show that high cholesterol foods like eggs can drive up blood cholesterol levels; others show no effect. Official guidelines in the U.S. advise consuming no more than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol daily if you’re healthy and 200 mg a day if you have high blood cholesterol, heart disease or diabetes. (A large egg contains about 212 mg; 3 ounces of shrimp 166.) But official guidelines in both Canada and Australia place no limits on dietary cholesterol.
Eventually, research may clarify the issue. For now, the bottom line seems to be that you’ll get a bigger payoff from reducing saturated fat and increasing the soluble fiber in your diet than you will from avoiding eggs. But if you have more than one a day, it may be worth cutting back or trying a low-cholesterol egg brand, such as Eggland’s Best—and watching to see if your LDL numbers drop.