High Cholesterol: How Harmful are Eggs?

The question of whether and to what extent cholesterol-containing foods such as eggs affect blood cholesterol levels is a topic of constant debate among scientists and doctors. Most recently, the cholesterol in eggs was considered harmless to health. But an American observational study from March 2019 comes to the conclusion that people who eat a lot of eggs have a higher risk of dying from heart attacks or strokes. With less cholesterol from food, on the other hand, the risk decreases. But scientists doubt that the results can generally be transferred to other countries.

Cholesterol Study: What the Researchers Studied

The current study looks at 29,615 people from six American long-term studies whose data were collected between 1985 and 2016. The test subjects were followed for an average of 17.5 years. Their eating habits, especially their daily cholesterol intake, and the illnesses that occurred during the study period were recorded. A total of 5,400 cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes) occurred. 6,132 participants died.

Criticism of the cholesterol study

Scientists warn against an uncritical interpretation of the study results. They point out that in observational studies, only selected aspects – in this case, egg consumption – are considered and are held responsible for the cause of an event, for example, the occurrence of heart attacks.

The problem is that all other aspects that could also influence the event remain unobserved. For example, in the case of the cholesterol study, how the test subjects prepared the eggs was not taken into account. In the USA, eggs are often fried and also eaten with fried bacon. This contains many saturated fatty acids, which increase the serum cholesterol significantly more than the pure cholesterol from food.

Which helps with high cholesterol levels

Elevated cholesterol levels can sometimes be lowered with lifestyle changes, exercise, and weight loss. With the help of a change in diet and avoidance of animal fats, the cholesterol level in the blood can be reduced by 10 to 15 percent in many cases. If the measures are not sufficient, the blood lipid levels can be reduced with medication.

How diet can affect cholesterol levels

  • Foods with a high proportion of saturated fatty acids, such as fatty meat, sausage, and bacon, and foods with so-called trans fatty acids, which are found in chips, chips, and puff pastry, for example, can increase cholesterol levels.
  • Foods with a high proportion of unsaturated fatty acids, for example in nuts, avocados, and vegetable oils, can lower cholesterol levels. A study by the University of Munich has shown that the daily consumption of a handful of walnuts (43 grams) per day, which consist of almost 50 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids, can lower LDL cholesterol in the blood by five percent.
  • Legumes and oats can also lower cholesterol levels.
  • Moderate consumption of eggs is usually harmless.

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