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Eggs & Cholesterol

woman holding egg and heart

Eggs & Cholesterol

What is Cholesterol?

There are two types of cholesterol: blood cholesterol, which our bodies make and our livers recycle; and dietary cholesterol, found in some of the foods we eat. 

Although high blood cholesterol levels increase heart disease risk, cholesterol in itself is not necessarily bad. In fact, it’s an essential part of our body’s cells, vitamin D, hormones, and bile acids. 

Eggs contain dietary cholesterol and this has led to confusion about their impact on heart health. So should you be worried about cholesterol when eating eggs?

Are Eggs Bad For Cholesterol Levels?

The short answer is no.

The latest Heart Foundation recommendations put no limit on how many eggs healthy people can eat each week. The Heart Foundation state that eggs have a minimal effect on blood cholesterol levels and eggs are encouraged as part of a heart healthy eating pattern with a reminder to be mindful of what you choose to eat with them.

CSIRO research has also shown that eggs can be enjoyed on a daily basis. The CSIRO conducted a range of research, both in clinical trials and in a survey of more than 84,000 Australians, and found that egg consumption is actually linked to a better overall diet and a number of positive health outcomes.

woman holding egg and heart

Why is high Cholesterol Bad?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid, which is a waxy substance that forms an important part of your body’s cells. While cholesterol is essential to our bodies, having too much of it in the bloodstream can increase the risk of heart disease. 

High cholesterol levels can lead to fatty deposits building up in blood vessels which eventually makes it difficult for blood to flow around the body. These deposits can break off and form clots that may cause a heart attack or stroke. 

High cholesterol levels can be caused by genetics but is also commonly caused by unhealthy diet and lifestyle choices. So while you can’t change your genetics,  many people can lower their cholesterol levels by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. 

In the past, some dietary experts did recommend limiting dietary cholesterol and egg intake. But as health and nutrition research has continued and our understanding of diet has improved, healthy eating guidelines now state that dietary cholesterol (and eggs) have a minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels in most people.

How Much Cholesterol Is In An Egg?

Eggs contain approximately 398mg of cholesterol per serve (2x60g egg), mostly in the egg yolk, and are one of the key contributors to intakes in the diet.

Eggs also contain 13 essential vitamins and nutrients including quality protein and healthy fats.

Do Eggs Raise Cholesterol Levels?

While eggs do contain high levels of dietary cholesterol, multiple studies have shown they have a minimal impact on blood cholesterol levels, especially when consumed as part of a healthy diet. 

Current evidence indicates there is no link between the number of eggs eaten and the risk of coronary heart disease in most people. Eggs have a neutral relationship with heart health, meaning they neither increase nor decrease the risk of heart disease in the general population. 

How Many Eggs Is Too Much?

Given eggs have a minimal impact on blood cholesterol and are not linked to heart disease risk in the general population, eggs can be enjoyed freely as part of a healthy diet. The Heart Foundation places no limit on egg intake for healthy adults.

For individuals with an increased risk of heart disease (such as those with diabetes or high cholesterol levels), the Heart Foundation suggests a limit of seven eggs per week. 

The Healthiest Way To Eat Eggs

Green Sharshuka

Saturated fat has a greater impact on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol and that means what you eat with your eggs is important. 

It is recommended that eggs be eaten as part of a varied diet alongside foods that are good for the heart such as fish, fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.  

Rather than worrying about eggs, focus on your whole diet, increasing fruit and vegetable intake, eating whole foods, and reducing the number of processed foods that are typically high in salt, sugar and saturated fat.

The healthiest way to cook eggs is to boil, poach, or scramble them, without using butter or adding salt. Instead of bacon, eat them with vegetables such as spinach, capsicum, mushrooms, tomatoes, or with avocado. Add extra flavour to your eggs by adding herbs and/or spices and enjoy them with wholegrain bread.

Eggs have a range of health benefits that make them an important part of a varied diet that is low in saturated fats. 

What is a Heart Healthy Diet?

Remember that cholesterol levels are just one aspect of heart health and no one nutrient or food is going to mean you have a healthy heart.

Drawing from research showing the benefits of the Mediterranean and DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diets, the Heart Foundation recommends a dietary pattern which includes plenty of vegetables, fruits and wholegrains; a variety of healthy protein sources including fish and legumes, eggs and lean poultry; unflavoured milk, yoghurt and cheese; healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocadoes and olives; and Herbs and spices to flavour foods, instead of adding salt.

Need help starting a heart healthy diet? Follow this 7-day Mediterranean meal plan developed by an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

View Meal Plan

Got high cholesterol? Take action with our 7-day low cholesterol meal plan developed by an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

View Meal Plan

We Are Individuals

When it comes to cholesterol levels, it is important to remember we are individuals. Some adults are more sensitive than others to rises in blood cholesterol levels after consuming dietary cholesterol. For individual advice on diet, cholesterol and heart health speak to a GP or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

Learn More About Egg Nutrition

There are many misconceptions around eggs and whether they should be eaten in certain situations. Australian Eggs provides information on all aspects of egg nutrition. Find out about the vitamins and nutrients in eggs and why they’re considered one of nature’s powerhouse foods. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Eggs Bad For Cholesterol?

The short answer is no.

What Is Cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a type of lipid, which is a waxy substance that forms part of our body’s cells. While cholesterol is essential to our bodies, having too much of it in the bloodstream can increase the risk of heart disease.

How Much Cholesterol Is In An Egg?

Eggs contain approximately 398mg of cholesterol per serve (2x60g eggs), mostly in the egg yolk, and are a major source of dietary cholesterol.

Do Eggs Raise Cholesterol Levels?

While eggs do contain high levels of dietary cholesterol, multiple studies have shown they have a minimal impact on the body’s blood cholesterol levels, especially when consumed as part of a healthy diet.

How Many Eggs Should I Eat?

The Heart Foundation places no specific limit on egg intake for healthy adults but suggests those with diabetes or high cholesterol levels limit their intake to 7 eggs per week.

Want to see what an egg farm looks like? Take this interactive 360 degree tour to see how eggs are produced in Australia.

Free range farm with two people