Eggs and Cholesterol

Cholesterol

Eggs, cholesterol, fat… misconception, mother of all misconceptions; so let’s review here the link between eggs and cholesterol.
Through the years, the number of people suffering from hypercholesterolemia began increasing, and this is when health authorities started advising a decreased consumption of eggs, which are a food rich in cholesterol. But in fact, there is nothing to fear about eggs, no matter what you think about them.

It has been proven that cholesterol consumption has nothing to do with cholesterol levels within the blood stream (this is the same story that shows that fat will not make you fat). There are several hypotheses as to why this is- the most probable one being that the liver regulates its cholesterol production if the cholesterol is brought in through diet.

What do the studies say?

  • One study showed that the daily consumption of 3 eggs while the subjects were fed a hypocaloric and hypoglucidic diet, led to the increase of HDL cholesterol in this overweight group.
  • The big American study NHANES III showed that people who consumed 4 eggs a day had lower cholesterol levels than the people who only consumed 1 egg a day.
  • A famous case was reported by a research group in 1991: the case of a 88 year old man who, during 15 years, used to eat around 25 eggs a day. His blood report showed not only average cholesterol levels, but also no sign of any cardiac issues whatsoever.
  • Other studies tried to see if a link exists between egg yolk consumption and mortality rate. While results showed some variations, they nevertheless pinpointed a high risk for diabetic people through the daily consumption of 2 eggs. The risk, however, seems non-existent for healthy people who consumed 1 egg on a daily basis.

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BUT, interestingly enough… all these studies have one common denominator: the eggs came from battery farming hens ; hens who never saw daylight, and were mainly fed with GMOs, which cannot be compared with the food a hen who happily walks outside usually eats. The resulting eggs have pale yolks, almost white. Hens are thus often given extra pigments in their diet, in order for their eggs to take on a more natural color.
Regarding their nutritive characteristics, it seems to me pertinent to talk about their fatty acid content: high in omega 6, low in omega 3.

This simply means that every egg consumed increases the misbalance of essential fatty acids; in other words, a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, mental diseases, or any inflammatory diseases (that means a ****load of diseases).

Moreover, this omega 6 consumption is responsible for the increase of inflammatory markers (the interleukin-6), and it has been proven that they are the predicators of type 2 diabetes. I personally think this hypothesis is quite solid, and would explain the mortality rate that some studies pinpointed.

Cholesterol related to fitness

Why do some athletes only eat the yolk, while others only consume whites? 

The link between muscles and cholesterol started to show up when studies proved that after resistance training, the cholesterol levels within the blood decreased for two hours, while up to 3 days were needed to restore normal levels.
The fatigue that comes after resistance training was also highly correlated to the decrease of cholesterol levels, and in greater proportion than the damages of muscle fibers. But, of course, tissues need cholesterol to heal…

Other studies went even further in order to underline the link between dietary cholesterol (again, via the consumption of eggs only) and muscle gains; the results seemed to be flawless:

  1. The more cholesterol you eat, the bigger the chances to gain strength and lean body mass.
  2. The more blood cholesterol is produced by the body, the bigger the chances to gain lean body mass and strength.

This last conclusion seems even more legit: when LDL levels are high, HDL levels are low. And that makes sense, LDL are lipoproteins that transport cholesterol from the liver to the cells (so the muscles’ cells as well) while HDL transport cholesterol from the cells to the liver.

For those who are interested, we have a big piece here that thoroughly explains how lipids work.

Sources

  1. Egg Consumption and Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke Mortality: A Prospective Study of US Adults.
  2. NHANES Confirms—An Egg a Day is Okay.
  3. Normal Plasma Cholesterol in a Man Who Eats 25 Eggs a Day.
  4. Effects of hypocaloric dietary treatment enriched in oleic acid on LDL and HDL subclass distribution in mildly obese women.

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