Eggs have relinquished their place on the list of foods to avoid. It turns out that dietary cholesterol has a small impact on levels of blood cholesterol for most people. Hard-boiled eggs may even help boost levels of good cholesterol, reports a study in the September 2012 issue of "Advances in Nutrition." While this is good news for egg lovers, it's still not permission to overindulge -- your body makes all the cholesterol it needs, and dietary cholesterol can still cause problems in some people.
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Benefits of Cholesterol
Cholesterol is needed to produce bile acids, which are used to digest fats, including fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients. It helps form the structure and regulate the activity of every cell in your body. You also need cholesterol to make vitamin D and steroid hormones such as estrogen and testosterone. The cholesterol obtained from eating a hard-boiled egg helps fill all these essential roles. Your body naturally produces its own cholesterol, but the quantity it makes is partly regulated by the amount of cholesterol from your diet, reports the Medical Biochemistry Page.
Good Versus Bad Cholesterol
During digestion, cholesterol is placed inside a shell made from protein and lipids. The resulting structure is called a lipoprotein. Your body produces several types of lipoproteins, and the cholesterol from a hard-boiled egg may become part of any type. High-density lipoproteins, or HDLs, are dubbed “good cholesterol” because they collect extra cholesterol and get it out of your blood by transporting it back to the liver. Low-density lipoproteins, or LDLs, serve an important job because they deliver cholesterol to cells that need it. However, they’re “bad cholesterol” because they stay in your bloodstream, and the cholesterol they carry can attach to artery walls.
Eggs Boost Good Cholesterol
In one study, half of the participants ate three whole eggs daily, while the other half consumed an equivalent amount of egg substitute. They all followed a diet that restricted carbohydrates to 25 to 30 percent of total calories, which is about half the normal recommended intake. At the end of 12 weeks, both groups had higher levels of HDL, but the group who ate whole eggs also had lower triglycerides and the function of their HDL improved, according to the journal “Lipids” in June 2013. Another study found that LDL went down, while HDL levels increased, when people with metabolic syndrome restricted carbs and ate three eggs daily, reports the March 2013 issue of “Metabolism.”
Eating up to one egg daily does not increase the risk of heart disease in healthy people, advises the Harvard School of Public Health. If you have high cholesterol or diabetes, don’t eat more than three egg yolks weekly, or only eat egg whites because the yolk contains all of the fat and cholesterol. One hard-boiled egg contains 5.3 grams of total fat, including 186 milligrams of cholesterol. This amount delivers 62 percent of the recommended daily intake of 300 milligrams, according to the American Heart Association.
- Lipids: Egg Consumption Modulates HDL Lipid Composition and Increases the Cholesterol-Accepting Capacity of Serum in Metabolic Syndrome
- Harvard Medical School: Understanding Cholesterol: The Good, the Bad and the Necessary
- Medical Biochemistry Page: Regulating Cholesterol Synthesis
- Metabolism: Whole Egg Consumption Improves Lipoprotein Profiles and Insulin Sensitivity to a Greater Extent Than Yolk-free Egg Substitute in Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome
- Harvard School of Public Health: Eggs and Heart Disease
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats
- Advances in Nutrition: Exploring the Factors That Affect Blood Cholesterol and Heart Disease Risk: Is Dietary Cholesterol as Bad for You as History Leads Us to Believe?
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients