Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cholesterol in eggs

Last weekend I was speaking to somebody who told me he doesn't eat many eggs because he has high cholesterol.  I didn't say anything, since I don't know him very well, but it did prompt me to dig up some research on the effects of egg consumption on blood cholesterol.

I wrote yesterday about how HDL is by far the best predictor of cardiovascular disease, so by extension, all we should need to investigate is how egg consumption affects HDL.

The Journal of Internal medicine reported a study in 2009 that measured exactly that.  

This 6 week study looked at 24 healthy adults, who were instructed to eat 2 boiled eggs daily.   The result:
HDL cholesterol increased by 10% (P < 0.05) and total cholesterol increased 4% (P < 0.05), whereas the ratio total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol did not change significantly. Serum triglycerides and LDL cholesterol were also unchanged.
Another study, this one reported in Journal of Nutrition in 2008, put a group of overweight males on a carbohydrate reduced diet over a 12 week period and instructed them to eat 3 eggs every day.   Compared to the control group, whose carbohydrate was similarly restricted, the egg eaters' HDL improved by almost 20%:
The plasma LDL-C concentration, as well as the LDL-C:HDL-C ratio, did not change during the intervention. In contrast, plasma HDL-C concentration increased in the EGG group from 1.23 ± 0.39 to 1.47 ± 0.38 mmol/L (P < 0.01), whereas HDL-C did not change in the SUB group. .... Eighteen subjects were classified as having the metabolic syndrome (MetS) at the beginning of the study, whereas 3 subjects had that classification at the end. These results suggest that including eggs in a CRD results in increased HDL-C while decreasing the risk factors associated with MetS.
This is great news, and if anything, suggests we should be eating more eggs in a reduced carbohydrate diet to improve our heart health.

If you're interested in reading more, do take a look at this Health in Motion article, which looks at some of the other great nutrients found in eggs.

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