Eggs and cholesterol – how many you should eat a day to keep your levels in check?
High cholesterol: Nutritionist reveals top prevention tips
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People may be wary of increasing their blood cholesterol levels, especially as the waxy substance can block arteries and lead to a heart attack. Are you better off avoiding eggs all together? Heart UK – the cholesterol charity – said: “Eating three to four eggs a week should be fine.” To be on the safer side, you might want to take the advice of the Heart Foundation.
This charity organisation recommended people at high risk of heart disease to eat no more than three eggs per week.
Both companies recognise that it’s “more important” to limit the amount of saturated fat consumed, rather than eggs.
The Heart Foundation explained: “Dietary cholesterol [i.e. eggs] has little impact on blood cholesterol levels within the context of a diet lower in saturated fat.
“However, dietary cholesterol and saturated fat act synergistically.
“Intakes of dietary cholesterol higher than 300mg/day were a more important determinant of total and LDL cholesterol when saturated fats accounted for more than 15 per cent of total energy intake.”
To put things into perspective, one egg contains around 186mg of cholesterol.
“LDL cholesterol” refers to low-density lipoprotein, otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”.
It’s considered “bad” because this type of cholesterol embeds on the artery walls, causing blood passageways to narrow, and increases the risk of a heart attack.
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A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the muscle is blocked.
High-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, on the other hand, is considered “good”.
This is because LDL cholesterol picks up the “bad” cholesterol from the blood (before it embeds on artery walls) and takes it to the liver.
Once at the liver, LDL cholesterol is broken down and excreted from the body as waste.
Foods high in saturated fats are more risky than a couple of eggs during the week.
Examples of foods high in saturated fat include:
- Butter, ghee, suet, lard, coconut oil and palm oil
- Fatty cuts of meat
- Cured meats like salami, chorizo and pancetta
- Pastries, such as pies, quiches, sausage rolls and croissants
- Cream, crème fraîche and sour cream
- Ice cream
- Coconut milk and coconut cream
The benefits of eating eggs
Eating some eggs is far more beneficial than eating foods high in saturated fats.
Heart UK stated that eggs contain vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate and riboflavin.
The nutrient-dense egg also contains protein and is “fairly low in fat”.
As well as being mindful of eating saturated fats, exercise is key in reducing cholesterol levels.
“Doing 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week can improve your cholesterol levels,” confirmed the NHS.
You can figure out if you’re exercising at a “moderate intensity” if you can still talk, but can’t sing.
Activities can range from swimming, dancing, jogging, brisk walking to cycling.
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