Despite years of being told to avoid eating eggs (both seen and unseen in the foods we eat) because of the high amount of cholesterol in the yolks, experts now say that the cholesterol in foods does not cause increased cholesterol in blood that leads to heart disease.
In the past several years, authoritative organizations responsible for issuing guidance on heart disease prevention have changed from relying on “expert opinion” to “evidence-based reviews.” The change about whether or not to limit dietary cholesterol (from eggs and organ meats particularly) started when the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) published the 2013 “AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk” (Eckel, 2013). This 45 page detailed document does not mention the word “egg” and has no recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol. These experts did not find evidence to support the restriction. However, this does NOT mean that the company that eggs often keep are now go-to foods. Foods that are high in saturated fat and/or trans-fat DO need to be restricted as they are associated with increased cholesterol in blood that can feed the artery clogging cardiovascular disease process.
More recently, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee also looked into the science related to dietary cholesterol (DGAC, 2015). The authors used a term called “nutrient of concern” to categorize nutrients that “may pose a substantial public health concern” or “some level of risk” for the US population. The report stated that dietary cholesterol is NOT a “nutrient of concern” and did not suggest a limit for daily intake. The report is clear to state, however, that saturated fat IS a nutrient of concern and should be limited.
In addition to the AHA, ACC, and USDA updates on dietary cholesterol, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) just published jointly with the AHA, an update on preventing cardiovascular disease in patients with known diabetes (Fox, 2015). So now the ADA also no longer recommends avoiding eggs or restricting dietary cholesterol. The concern over saturated fat still exists, which means eggs on a garden salad, eggs in a veggie omelet, eggs and whole wheat toast, all are go-to foods. Just don’t team them up with red and processed meats, full fat cheeses, and other foods high in saturated fat. Enjoy!
Eckel RH, Jakicic JM, Ard JD, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC Guideline on Lifestyle Management to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk: A report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on practice guidelines. Circulation November 12, 2013.
Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture.” February 2015.
Fox CS, Golden SH, Anderson C et al. “Update on Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease in Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Light of Recent Evidence: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association. “ Diabetes Care epub August 5, 2015 DOI: 10.2337/dci15-0012
Lynn Cofer-Chase, MSN, CLS, FAHA, FPCNA, FNLA is a Clinical Lipid Specialist and part of the Egg Nutrition Center Health Professional Advisory Board for which she receives compensation in exchange for contributing to this blog. However, all opinions reflected in this post are the authors.
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