Since the inception of the National Cholesterol Education Program in 1985, Americans have become more aware of the effects of high blood cholesterol on overall health. Doctors and scientists initially believed that eating foods high in dietary cholesterol, like eggs, caused high blood cholesterol levels. More recent research, such as that published in the July 2010 issue of “Nutrition Journal,” reveals that eating eggs in moderation does not significantly influence blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.
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Triglycerides and Cholesterol
Triglycerides and cholesterol share several characteristics. Both are classified as lipids because neither can dissolve in or mix with water. Both triglycerides and cholesterol must bind to specialized proteins, known as lipoproteins, to travel through the blood. High blood triglyceride and high blood cholesterol levels both increase your risk for heart disease. Even with these similarities, these two lipids differ. Your body produces about 75 percent of your total cholesterol in the liver and uses it to add structure to cell membranes, stimulate hormone production and create bile acids. Your body converts unused calories from food into triglycerides, which then get stored in the fat cells for use as an energy source at a later time.
Cholesterol in Eggs
Eggs, specifically the yolk portion of the egg, contain a significant amount of cholesterol, approximately 184 milligrams per egg. Consuming large amounts of dietary cholesterol may increase the amount of cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk for atherosclerosis – the buildup of plaque – and heart disease. Despite the fact that high blood cholesterol levels and high blood triglyceride levels often occur together, consuming dietary cholesterol does not increase your triglyceride level.
Making lifestyle changes to reduce your triglyceride levels can also reduce your cholesterol, but these changes do not need to include removing eggs from your diet. To lower your triglycerides, reduce your calorie intake. Eating fewer calories reduces the number of unused calories, which reduces the production of triglycerides. When reducing your calories, cut down on simple carbohydrates and sugars, as your body readily converts these into triglycerides. Choose foods that contain more unsaturated fat than saturated fat. Lose weight. A weight loss of just five to 10 pounds can help lower your triglycerides, according to the American Heart Association. Eggs, eaten in moderation as part of a heart-healthy diet, can help you meet these goals.
Benefits of Eggs
An average large egg contains only 72 calories. Many of these calories are in the form of protein, the nutrient your body needs to build and repair muscle cells. A large egg contains 6.3 grams of protein, with the egg white providing 3.6 grams of that protein and the yolk providing 2.7 grams. The protein in eggs helps you to feel full, which reduces your urge to snack between meals. Eggs do not contain any sugar or simple carbohydrates. Of an egg's 4.8 grams of total fat, only 1.6 grams is saturated fat, with 1.8 grams of monounsaturated fat and 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat.