I eat a lot of eggs. One each morning in my breakfast slop and one in each lunch salad on weekdays, and around one to four on the weekends: between 11 and 14 a week. Conventional wisdom used to say to eat no more than 5 eggs a week. My doctor told me a similar number when I asked him for a guideline a year or so ago, but when told him my egg reality, and he said “okay, as long as your blood work stays clean, go for it.” So off I went, and so far, so good.
It seems the rules have loosened up a bit. The 2011 ChooseMyPlate.gov guidelines from the USDA (replacing the old Food Pyramid) are a little more generous:
One egg a day, on average, doesn’t increase risk for
heart disease, so make eggs part of your weekly
choices. Only the egg yolk contains cholesterol and
saturated fat, so have as many egg whites as you want.
But what about the studies that are cropping up all over the place claiming that dietary cholesterol doesn’t directly relate to blood cholesterol? Who to trust? Well, I trust Harvard:
A solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet.
For most people, the amount of cholesterol eaten has only a modest impact on the amount of cholesterol circulating in the blood.
World’s Healthiest Foods describes a couple studies from the University of Massachusetts which claim a daily egg can reduce your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, while not raising blood cholesterol levels.
The UK’s Daily Mail reports on research from the European Journal of Nutrition showing that a two-egg-a-day diet can actually reduce one’s cholesterol.
This cholesterol article tells us that only some of the dietary cholesterol consumed actually ends up in your bloodstream, and if you consume excess cholesterol, your body can compensate by producing less cholesterol of its own.
Most studies seem to give the green light to eating an egg a day, but not much more than that. So enjoy your eggs in moderation, and be sure to choose eggs from pasture-raised, humanely treated chickens.