1 800 542 7322
Toll Free Hotline

Cholesterol - am I allowed to eat eggs and if so, how many?

Cholesterin hat zweifelsfrei einen schlechten Ruf und ist Bestandteil einer Jahrzehnte alten Debatte. Es steht im Verdacht die Entstehung von Arteriosklerose zu fördern und Herzinfarkte und Schlaganfälle zu begünstigen. Aus diesem Grund wurde es lange Zeit als gefährlich eingestuft und cholesterinhaltige Lebensmittel, wie Eier, Fleisch und Butter regelrecht dämonisiert.

Undoubtedly, cholesterol has a poor reputation and has become the topic of a decades-old debate. It is suspected that cholesterol increases the likelihood of arteriosclerosis and facilitates heart attacks and strokes. Because of this, it has long been classified as dangerous and cholesterol-containing foods such as eggs, meat and butter have been demonized.

Even though it is a commonly feared ingredient, cholesterol takes over vital functions in the organism. It is a vital part of the cell membranes and serves as a basic element for a series of hormones and bile acids, which are essential for digestion. The majority of circulating cholesterol does not originate from food, as it is frequently believed, but is produced in the liver and gut. Depending on its needs, the body can regulate cholesterol synthesis and adjust it to the current nutritional condition.

Blood cholesterol can be grouped into different fractions, but when referring to cholesterol levels, the total cholesterol is measured.

This is primarily subdivided into HDL (High-Density Lipoprotein) and LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein), where HDL is commonly identified as "good" and LDL as "bad" cholesterol. These two lipoproteins are complexes of proteins and fats, and contribute to the transport of cholesterol in the body. While the LDL is responsible for the transport of cholesterol from the liver to the peripheral tissues, HDL incorporates the excess cholesterol and transports it back to the liver. There it is metabolized and subsequently excreted via the bile.

High LDL levels, or a disproportion between HDL and LDL, are considered an individual risk factor for the occurrence of cardiovascular diseases. According to the present-day doctrine, altered forms of LDL play a leading role. Thus, for example, pollutants like cigarette smoke, environmental toxins or obesity build up free oxygen radicals in the body. Through their action, increasingly more oxidized LDL (oxLDL) is formed from LDL, which promotes the occurrence of atherosclerosis. In turn, the probability of a cardiovascular event increases with the degree of atherosclerosis.

Numerous epidemiological studies provide clues in the same direction. Likewise, it could be shown that the utilization of cholesterol-lowering drugs from the statins group decreased LDL levels and the rate of heart attacks and strokes.

However, based on current scientific knowledge, there is no evidence that the cholesterol blood level and cardiovascular risk grows because of dietary cholesterol. Accordingly, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee of the US Department of Health no longer classifies cholesterol as a dangerous food component and has set aside the previous maximum daily dose of 300 milligrams.

There are many factors that cause an increased cholesterol level. These include, for one, a genetic predisposition and diseases such as diabetes mellitus, obesity, renal insufficiency, hypothyroidism or diseases of the liver and biliary tract. Apart from these factors, lifestyle also plays an essential role. Lack of exercise, regular nicotine and alcohol consumption and bad nutrition can negatively influence the lipoprotein pattern. Often, a combination of different factors produces a rise in cholesterol levels.

Rather than eliminating individual food items, it is therefore advisable to maintain a healthy lifestyle and, if necessary, to start drug therapy. In doing so, the cholesterol level can be sustainably lowered and cardiovascular risk is considerably minimized.

Image 1 © “airborne77” / Adobe Stock
Image 2 © “Alexandr Mitiuc” / Adobe Stock

You might like the following stories