Eggs and cholesterol

fried eggs
fried eggs
You've probably already heard that you shouldn't eat eggs every day, because they contain cholesterol

Only one thing is correct in this advice: eggs do indeed contain cholesterol. As for the rest, there are three serious errors:

  1. Dietary cholesterol has little influence on the cholesterol circulating in our blood. Circulating cholesterol is mainly synthesized by the body.

  2. Cholesterol is not bad. I repeat: cholesterol is not bad. It's the oxidation of this cholesterol that can be problematic.

  3. Not only is cholesterol not bad, but it’s also good and necessary!

And yet, how many doctors still automatically prescribe statins when their patient's blood test shows cholesterol to be too high? Far too many...

Let's start with the third statement: cholesterol is good, it's necessary. In fact, cholesterol is mainly synthesized by our body to enable the synthesis of i) our steroid hormones, including our sex hormones (for example, a young girl who is too thin and has a cholesterol deficiency may have her first menstrual period several years late, due to a lack of hormones enabling ovulation; young women with anorexia may experience amenorrhea for the same reason), ii) our cell membranes, iii) our bile salts, iv) our endogenous vitamin D and v) our endogenous coenzyme Q10. Furthermore, cholesterol is found in arteries because it helps repair damage to their walls, particularly that caused by a pro-inflammatory diet. Other roles have been highlighted in recent studies, notably in immunity, the formation of myelin sheaths surrounding the axons of neurons, and the functioning of serotonin receptors (it has been observed that a cholesterol deficiency is correlated with a higher incidence of depression).

Secondly, cholesterol isn't bad; it's its oxidation that can be problematic. Indeed, it's oxidized cholesterol that can cause inflammation when it settles in the vessels and arteries, triggering the arrival of immune system macrophages and the formation of a fibrous plaque. This is atherosclerotic plaque, which can lead to atherosclerosis, i.e., a reduction in the volume available for blood flow. This can lead to an ischemic stroke, i.e., an obstruction of the blood vessel that blocks the supply of sufficient oxygen to the brain. What we really need to avoid is damaging our arteries, having too much oxidation and producing too much cholesterol, notably by ingesting too many fast sugars (LDL cholesterol increases with insulin, to help convert sugars into fat). This is achieved through a good diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Finally, dietary cholesterol has little influence on the cholesterol circulating in our blood. This is logical, as cholesterol is synthesized for the various roles mentioned above. You really need to eat a lot of dietary cholesterol to achieve a significant rise in blood cholesterol (which, let's repeat, is not a problem if it’s not oxidized).

To conclude, eggs are an excellent food from a nutritional point of view, as they contain eight of the nine essential amino acids and are rich in omega 3, especially if you choose eggs from hens fed flaxseed. Choose these or organic eggs.

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Fried eggs picture by Coffeefy Workafe