An egg is a nutrient-rich food loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein and fats. However, eggs have gotten a bad reputation due to their natural levels of cholesterol. But, if you have high triglyceride levels, eggs don't seem to be the culprit — and may be enjoyed in moderation.
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Triglycerides are a type of fat in your blood. Having an elevated triglyceride level is concerning, explains Mayo Clinic, because it can lead to thickening or hardening of the arteries. The American Heart Association advises that elevated triglyceride levels may be related to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Read more: Triglycerides: What You Need to Know
But Can I Eat Eggs?
While it's true that limiting foods that contain saturated fat is recommended when managing triglyceride levels, eggs in moderation may be an acceptable addition. An egg contains 1.6 grams of saturated fat, according to the USDA. However, data suggest that egg consumption does not appear to raise triglyceride levels.
There are quite a few studies evaluating the role eggs have on serum lipid concentrations (fat-like substances in your blood), including triglycerides.
A meta-analysis of 28 trials, published in February 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, reported that egg consumption increased total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, but no effect of increased egg consumption was observed on triglyceride concentrations relative to a low-egg diet.
A similar result has been found in people with type 2 diabetes. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April 2015, researchers evaluated 140 people with type 2 diabetes and investigated how a high-egg diet (two eggs a day for six days a week) and a low-egg diet (fewer than two eggs a week) affected lipid profiles.
Results suggested that, along with other lipid markers, no difference was seen for triglyceride levels after three months. In other words, eating eggs more frequently did not raise triglyceride levels in people with diabetes, at least in the short term.
Read more: The 20 Best Ways to Use Eggs
How Foods Affect Triglycerides
Elevated triglycerides may be a result of diet, genetics or certain medical conditions or medications. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, diet choices that may contribute to elevated triglyceride levels include:
However, making healthy diet changes can lower triglyceride levels. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that approaches that may help lower your triglyceride risk include:
- Focusing on sources of unsaturated fats: olive oils, nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish.
- Eating two servings of fish or seafood a week for an omega-3 fatty acid boost.
carbohydrates wisely by eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat
dairy instead of refined carbohydrates.
Making these swaps in place of unhealthy choices can help lower your triglyceride levels and improve your overall heart health.
The Bottom Line
While more long-term studies are needed, for most people it appears to be safe to consume eggs in moderation while managing triglyceride levels.
However, other dietary factors play a larger role on triglyceride management and should be kept in mind, says Barry Silverman, MD, a cardiologist at Northside Medical Center in Atlanta. "Carbohydrates, especially sugar and sweets, raise triglycerides," he says, and "alcohol, even small amounts, raises triglycerides."
Read more: Foods to Avoid for High Triglycerides
Even foods he advises patients to restrict can be "consumed in small amounts without significantly increasing cardiovascular risk," he say. "It is about portions and frequency in terms of risk."
For a fuller picture of your cardiovascular risk, your cholesterol profile should also be considered when making dietary choices. If you have any questions about this, and are unsure whether you should be restricting your diet, it's important to discuss these questions with your doctor.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?"
- American Heart Association: "HDL (Good) Cholesterol, LDL (Bad) Cholesterol, and Triglycerides"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "The Effect of a High-Egg Diet on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in People With Type 2 Diabetes: The Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study - A 3-Mo Randomized Controlled Trial"
- Barry Silverman, MD, cardiologist, Northside Medical Center, Atlanta
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: "Effects of Egg Consumption on Blood Lipids: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials"
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: "High Blood Triglycerides"
- USDA: "Eggs"
- Mayo Clinic: "Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?"