Q. My husband loves eggs and used to eat them several times a week. When he was told 25 years ago he had a cholesterol problem, he gave up eggs, butter and saturated fat.

Even with a good diet, his cholesterol stayed high. The doctor decided five years ago that my husband needed a cholesterol-lowering drug. He now takes Pravachol, which keeps his cholesterol around 180.

We just read that eggs are not a problem any more. This is hard to believe, but would it be all right for him to have an egg once in awhile?

A. As heretical as it may sound, up to an egg a day does not appear to have a major impact on most people’s risk of heart attack or stroke. That is what Harvard researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association (April 21, 1999).

People assumed that because eggs contain cholesterol they would increase the risk of heart disease. But studies of over 37,000 men and 80,000 women followed for many years demonstrated that avoiding eggs did not prevent cardiovascular problems. These results may not apply to diabetics.

More recent research indicates that about three-fourths of the population does not experience dangerously elevated cholesterol after eating eggs (Food and Function, Nov. 2010). Unless your husband is diabetic or one of the 25 percent who has an exaggerated cholesterol response to eating eggs, he could certainly enjoy an egg now and then.

You can learn more about diet and other ways to keep cholesterol and other heart risk factors under control in our book, Best Choices from The People’s Pharmacy, available in libraries, bookstores and online.

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  1. Mitch

    The last commenter noted that eggs contain lecithin. To expand on that, lecithin has been shown in animal studies to be protective against and even reverse induced fatty liver conditions. So the previous recommendations regarding eggs appear to be opposite of what the recommendation should have been. Much in the same way that fructose has been peddled as a “low glycemic” sweetener to diabetics, when it is likely the most culpable drivers of diabetes in our food supply.

  2. Dennis D

    Don`t listen to any regular Doctor. The only thing they understand are drugs. Most of the cholesterol produced by your body is used by the brain. If my cholesterol level is around 200, that is fine. I lowered my cholesterol by 64 points in 2 months by eaying a teaspoon of crushed garlic an one cup of fresh blueberries every day. Not bad with no drugs.
    As for eggs, I eat eggs all the time. We have our own chickens that free range so the eggs are as natural as you can have. Eggs have cholesterol but the also have lecithin that combats the cholesterol. They also have a lot of lutien which is good for your eyes. They also contain a lot of protein.
    The only reason these people recommend such low cholesterol levels is so the drug companies can sell more of their medicines.

  3. fbl

    beau10, you are absolutely right!
    Too low cholesterol is bad. I am proof of that! My cholesterol reading is only 110 and in the last three years I have had the big three-heart attack, stroke, and cancer. Keep you number 200-300 please…
    Low cholesterol is NOT HEALTHY!!!
    Yes, I am working on raising it and will get checked again in another month. I’m taking some supplements that are supposed to help. No, I will not eat the nasty hydrogenated fats to raise it…not healthy either!

  4. fbl

    This cholesterol stuff is such an unadulterated load of bull! I feel so sorry for all the poor fools suckered in by the medical professionals and ruining their lives with cholesterol drugs!
    We have been through the whole cholesterol mill believing as we were supposed to that all the saturated fats were bad, bad, bad. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this program was NOT working for my hubby. His number got up to about 325 or 330, can’t remember exactly. This was with doing everything “right”.
    I finally put my foot down when even my Dr suggested he might want to try medication. Our Dr rarely prescribes meds unless there is no other way. I said NO and decided that if one way didn’t work then we would go all natural. After all my cholesterol was too low and I kept eating my butter and other saturated fats.
    What worked? All natural fats! Yup, the real thing. No vegetable oils other than olive oil. We use only organic butter, palm oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil and for making our mayonnaise I use organic almond or other nut oils.
    My hubby’s cholesterol is now a healthy 225. Yes anything under 300 is fine!
    As a side note: Eggs are fine, organic preferred of course, but be very careful as many people are sensitive to eggs and don’t know it.

  5. Kate M

    When I lowered my LDL from 149 to 109 in six months by eating one
    avocado a week (a suggestion I found here) she still wanted me to take her pills which I’d been refusing for three years. So far I’ve managed to avoid taking any medication that wasn’t available 30 years ago. And I’m now 81 going for 100.

  6. beau10

    What about the reports that too-low cholesterol lead to heart attack and stroke deaths? I’ll keep my cholesterol level at 200 and continue to watch people I know who claim “My cholesterol is 120 and I’m healthy” drop like deceased flies.

  7. Maria from Ohio

    About 7 or 8 years ago, I got tired of the margarine spattering the stove when I fixed my husband’s eggs and began to use butter. Of course, I had been using the margarine on our toast as well. When I switched to butter instead of margarine, my cholestoral level dropped almost 40 points (my HDL remained at the same 80-85 level). When my doctor asked me if I had changed anything in my diet, I told him the only thing was the switch from margarine to butter.
    And although my husband was a diabetic and had heart problems, his cholesterol level was never above 160 or 180 but his triglycerides were elevated and he had a low HDL level of 40 or 45. He loved eggs for breakfast and ate them at least 4-5 times a week. The other days he had oatmeal.

  8. GG

    On the contrary, the bad LDL is raised by the los-fat/high carb diet so popular with the medical establishment. The LDL from animal sources is the low density LDL that isn’t harmful.

  9. Kate

    I read the results of a study that showed that oxidized cholesterol is the problem. As far as eggs the article said eating hard-boiled eggs is not a problem as opposed to scrambled eggs where the yolk is exposed to oxygen which changes how it acts in our bodies.

  10. DS

    The body makes cholesterol in the liver because the body needs it. Lowering cholesterol is like lowering stomach acid, another think the body needs. Next thing you know, they will be selling pills to lower blood volume.

  11. barb

    I’ve used hard boiled egg whites for years. Added to a salad, they contribute clean protein, but I don’t know if they affect my diabetes. Have you more information about this? Thanks.

  12. a.s.

    NOW can I have egg noodles?

  13. cpmt

    I CAN’T understand this erroneous information about eggs… one can have high cholesterol because: genetics, fat, bacon, too much red meat and other wrong foods eating or life style. In Europe, the Mediterranean diet INCLUDES EGGS (not a lot of them) about 1 egg- 2 or 3 times a week. Eggs are good for you (the yolk has many good ‘chemicals’ needed in our bodies.

  14. lynda

    If a person were going to eat eggs, they might do some research on the internet about the difference in nutritional value between organic eggs and non organic eggs.
    Granted, the difference in cost is important, but the added nutritional benefit may be worth it to you. It is to me. I savor my one organic, healthy egg per day.
    There is also much information on the internet about how you cook your eggs can affect the amount of nutrition you ingest.

  15. Paul43

    I would like to hear more about this subject.

  16. harold b.

    In my opinion there is not a single reason why the use of eggs should be limited [with normal kidney/liver functions] and as a doctor I never advised to limit eggs, certainly not soft-boiled eggs. I have dealt with this issue for some 35 years and I never found any proof what so ever that eggs would be causing any health problems.
    It is also-philosophically-nearly unthinkable that one of the most complete products would be “damaging”.
    Did we forget that the food industry brainwashed a huge population that butter is “unhealthy” and margarine [patented] was the solution!?
    I am not French or Italian but we all know that this non-sense never entered their mind. We are now entering the age of “new margarine’s” and of canola oil…. will we never learn?

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