When it comes to foods with confusing health messages, eggs may take the cake: Despite being a long-time breakfast and baking staple, health experts warned for years against eating them-especially the yolks-on a super-regular basis, for fears that doing so could raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease.
In recent years, however, doctors and nutritionists have softened their stance on the incredible edible, and many have touted eggs" abundance of important vitamins, minerals, and protein. And now, a new study appears to support the notion that eggs really aren"t dangerous to heart health, after all.
So, is it really okay-healthy, even-to eat eggs every day? For the bottom line on this often misunderstood topic, Health spoke with Peter Schulman, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut. Here"s what he wants breakfast lovers everywhere to know.
Eggs have cholesterol-but that"s not necessarily a bad thing
It"s true that eggs have a higher level of dietary cholesterol than many other foods-about 185 mg in one large egg. Not too long ago, eggs were even branded "as bad for you as smoking."
"Now we know that what really raises your cholesterol is saturated fat in the diet and not so much the cholesterol in foods," Dr. Schulman explains. While U.S. dietary guidelines used to recommend consuming no more than 300 mg of dietary cholesterol a day, that recommendation was removed in 2016.
"When we eat cholesterol, it"s broken down in the gut; it"s not absorbed as a whole cholesterol molecule," he says. Saturated fats, meanwhile, are broken into short chains of fatty acids that can become linked in the body-and that"s what has been shown to increase cholesterol levels significantly.
Yes, research suggests that eating foods that are high in dietary cholesterol, like eggs, can raise a person"s cholesterol a little bit. But another thing to consider, says Dr. Schulman, is the ratio of LDL (bad) cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol levels. "Eggs raise the HDL to a greater extent than it does the LDL," he explains, "which leads to reduced cardiovascular risk."