In the past, it was thought that foods that contain cholesterol – such as eggs – contributed to blood cholesterol levels and should be avoided. However, scientific consensus now shows that this is not the case. It’s time to bust the myths on eggs and cholesterol, because by avoiding them, we’re missing out on some great benefits! So, is it true that eggs increase cholesterol? Let’s find out.
Do eggs raise your cholesterol levels?
Eggs have cholesterol in them, but the cholesterol in food does not usually lead to elevated cholesterol levels in the blood. So although people worry about dietary cholesterol in foods like egg and cholesterol levels, (according to Heart UK) for most people, it is saturated fat that has much more of an impact* and what we should be cutting down on. The exception is people with the genetic condition Familial Hypercholesterolaemia who may also need to keep an eye on their dietary cholesterol intake.
So, are eggs good for you?
This is great news because eggs are a relatively cheap source of high-quality protein and could be described as a nutrition powerhouse! As well as being a great source of protein, eggs also contain many other helpful vitamins and minerals – to find out more about this, check out the NHS page on eggs here.
Getting the best from eggs
Eggs can form part of a healthy, balanced diet, but preparing them in a healthy way is important if you’re trying to maintain desirable cholesterol levels. Scrambled eggs, for example, can often contain lots of butter, which is high in saturated fat. Frying an egg, meanwhile, can increase their fat content by up to 50%, according to the NHS website. Here are five top tips for preparing eggs healthily:
- The best ways to prepare eggs are boiling and poaching, as these methods don’t involve adding extra fat. The trick to perfect poached eggs is to use only about an inch of water, keep it just simmering so it doesn’t break the egg apart, and add a drop of vinegar to bind the egg and enhance its flavour.
- You can also poach eggs in chunky soups and stews for a substantial meal. Try cooking chopped peppers, courgette, and red onion in chopped tomatoes and a little paprika, then making wells in the mixture and cracking in some eggs. Cook until done but just soft, maybe grilling for the final minute or two.
- Eggs on toast are a classic breakfast or easy dinner. Make this meal healthier by choosing wholegrain brown bread for extra fibre, and replacing the butter on your toast with Flora ProActiv spread if you’d like to help lower cholesterol.
- You can avoid high levels of saturated fats in your scrambled eggs by cooking them with a small amount of vegetable oil, rather than butter. You can make them without milk too, but if you prefer them with a looser texture, use skimmed milk or unsweetened soy milk instead of full fat, as these contain less saturated fat.
- Quiche is a delicious picnic staple, but pastry usually contains lots of butter. Luckily, you can easily make crust-less mini-quiches by greasing a non-stick muffin tin with a small amount of vegetable oil, and pouring your egg mixture straight into the cups. You can also make your pastry with a vegetable based spread instead of butter to reduce the saturated fat content significantly.
Eggs are nutritious, economical, and delicious, so don’t let outdated ideas about eggs and cholesterol content put you off enjoying them. Prepare them in healthy ways, and eggs can become an important part of a balanced and varied diet.
*Replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats in the diet has been shown to lower blood cholesterol. High cholesterol is a risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease. There are many risk factors for coronary heart disease and it is important to take care of all of them to reduce the overall risk of it.