Connect with Us: Foodservice RDs & Health Professionals

The Yolk is No Joke

Eggs have a slightly bad reputation because they contain cholesterol and cholesterol is linked to heart disease. This misconception may keep some people from eating eggs and Safest Choice feels they are missing out on a valuable source of nutrition.

It’s true — egg yolks do contain cholesterol, but that doesn’t actually mean they cause heart disease. The cholesterol that leads to artery-clogging atherosclerosis comes from two sources: diet and our own bodies. Dietary cholesterol shows up in animal products like meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs.   In our own bodies, the liver produces cholesterol, and this is largely controlled by genetics.

There are two kinds of blood cholesterol: High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL aka good cholesterol), and Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL aka bad cholesterol). What is bad is the amount of LDL blood cholesterol in the body, and too much of it can cause heart problems. However, it is widely accepted that consuming cholesterol in eggs does not have a significant effect on LDL blood cholesterol.

Although limiting cholesterol in your diet is important, when it comes to heart disease, the real culprits appear to be trans fats and saturated fats. These two substances account for most of the elevation in dietary cholesterol levels.   According to Harvard Medical School, “The only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease—not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries—found no connection between the two.�?

With contradicting recommendations many people forget that eggs are made up of more than just cholesterol. In fact, egg yolks are a powerhouse of nutrition.  The yolks contain most of the nutrients, including all of the essential fatty acids and the important omega-3 fatty acids that help prevent (not cause) heart disease. They’re also rich in vitamins and minerals, including potassium, iron, folate, selenium, carotenoids, vitamins A, D and E, and the B vitamins. When eating egg yolks or the whole egg you’re getting valuable nutrients that are absent when eating the whites alone.

Unless your doctor has strictly advised you against consuming whole eggs, doing so — in moderation — is fine for your health.