The “Cholesterol Con”– Eggs
In the past, I have written about the “cholesterol con” (part 1), the widespread belief that high levels of “bad (LDL) cholesterol” can cause heart attacks. As I have explained (part 2), the myth has generated enormous profits for many commercial interests, including companies that peddle statins. (Please read both parts of the post.) No surprise, manufacturers have poured millions of dollars into perpetuating the myth, and thus have succeed in convincing a great many Americans that they should avoid high-cholesterol foods–including eggs.
According to Harvard University’s Harvard Heart Letter, however, it is not the cholesterol in eggs or other food that’s a major culprit. It’s saturated and trans fats (which our bodies may convert to artery-clogging cholesterol).
Today, as my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I celebrated Father ‘s Day with a typical breakfast Austin TX classic that featured “perfect scrambled eggs” (here is the recipe), fresh fruit and mini-bagels, I regaled them what I had just learned by reading “Heart Sisters.” (Okay, “regaled” is the wrong word. My son and husband are not quite as interested in healthcare topics as I am. But my daughter-in-law—who is from the South, has lovely manners, and a kind heart — is always extremely interested in what I have to say.)
On Heart Sisters, Carolyn Thomas (a Mayo-Clinic trained heart attack survivor) lays out what Harvard’s cardiologists tell us about the egg:
“Fact: Eggs are a good source of nutrients. One egg contains six grams of protein and some healthful unsaturated fats. Eggs are also a good source of choline, which has been linked with preserving memory, and lutein and zeaxanthin, which may protect against vision loss.
“Myth: Eating eggs is bad for your heart. The only large study to look at the impact on heart disease of eating up to six eggs per week (reported in the April 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition) found no connection between the two. In people with diabetes, though, egg-a-day eaters were slightly more likely to have developed heart disease than diabetics who rarely ate eggs. (Ed. note: Quelle surprise . . . this study was done on men only).
“Fact: Eggs do have a lot of cholesterol. The average large egg contains 212 milligrams of cholesterol. As foods go, that’s quite a bit, rivaled only by single servings of liver, shrimp, and duck meat. Your daily cholesterol maximum intake should be below 300 mg.
“Myth: All that cholesterol goes straight to your bloodstream and then into your arteries. Not so. For most people, only a small amount of the cholesterol in food passes into the blood. Saturated and trans fats have much bigger effects on blood cholesterol levels.
“So if you like eggs, the Harvard Heart Letter says that eating one a day should be okay, especially if you cut back on saturated and trans fats, plus dietary cholesterol from other sources such as red meat. Another way to be more heathier is to awaken your yoga lifestyle today.
“Other ways to enjoy eggs without worrying about cholesterol include not eating the yolk, which contains all the egg’s cholesterol.” (Note: II personally like to have two eggs for breakfast poached, soft-boiled or fried in just a little butter two or three times a week. I eat mainly the whites just dipping them in the runny yolk. In this way, I consume just one yolk–MM.
Happy Father’s Day.
I believe I still have the research at my office, but if you let your chickens run outside in the natural light, the amount of cholesterol in the egg goes down. Feeding them shells from the shellfish industry is good for them too.
But, with our Henry Ford mentality being applied to all aspects of living….
After eating a minimum of 3 eggs per day for months on a keto diet, LDL was below 100 and the ratio of bad to good was @ 2.5:1. At 67, that is encouraging. To my knowledge, which would be greater if need indicated, there is no established link between high levels of dietary cholesterol and blood levels.
No statins ever needed, but joined wife in taking 2 g of niacin per day. She was prescribed a statin.
There are different types of cholesterol as explained to me. Some types are super fine and can get through large artery walls developing the plague which increases the blood pressure. My cholesterol count was 110 in total and I had a normal ratio of LDL and HDL. While I did not suffer any damage, the good stats did not stop me from having heart issues. I don’t gamble much when it comes to health. I am into fiber, sterols and stenols, and exercise big time.
Most people do not know that the “bad” cholesterol, LDL cholesterol ( a 27 carbon molecule) is what all of the progestins (21 carbon molecules including progesterone) come from. From the progestins we synthesize other 21 carbon molecules of cortisol and hydrocortisone. We also synthesize from progestins all the androgens (19 carbon molecules including testosterone) and from the androgens we synthesize all the estrogens (18 carbon molecules).
So LDL cholesterol is responsible for progesterone, hydrocortisone, testosterone and estrogen, which are four of the body’s seven major hormones and all of their metabolites (which may be in the 100’s).
Dr. Ray Peat, the guru of progesterone, says that when you lower LDL (which is why we are told to take statins) you will lower the risk of dying of heart disease, but you will increase the risk of dying of something else sooner. He found that in women, an LDL of 280 was the level that produced the greatest longevity.
I’ve never read about the link between LDL and progestins- interesting.
If someone figured out a way to make money on this information, we would all hear about it!
A doctor prescribed statins for my husband. He didn’t like the way they made him feel, and so stopped taking them. That was 15 years ago, and he has never had any heart issues.
He eats a very healthy diet (fish, fruit, vegetables, fiber, pasta, olive oil) and is very active. He also comes from a very lucky gene pool. (This is important. I think we are too quick to blame people for “not taking care of themselves.” In many cases, genetic risk factors (for heart disease, cancer, etc.) are extremely important.
When it comes to heart disease, everything I have read suggests that exercise is extremely important–as long as you don’t over do it. (I have two acquaintances who dropped dead while running. )
Fun stuff those statins. Cardiologist prescribed them for me also and even though I was at 110, Tris are normal, and ratio of LDL to HDL was good. I know why he did it and I talked him into cutting the dose in half as that stuff is torture. For him it was a safety measure. I went from 110 to 104 taking generic Lipitor which is free at Meijer food store.
I don’t run anymore; but, I do a triathlon of walking at 3.5 mph for 20 minutes, biking at a level 9 for 20 minutes, and the elliptical at a level 8 for 20 minutes at least 4 times a week. I monitor my heart rate and do not let it get past 135. Drink my red wine, make my mostly organic Oat Bran grd flax seed, and whole wheat flour(sorry Daniel) muffins, eat my Muesli, etc. Similar diet and exercise as before heart issues.
When you say that for your cardiologist, statins were “a safety measure”
I’m afraid that he was covering his ass (against the possibility of a
malpractice suit if he didn’t prescribe statins) not covering your heart.
More importantly, if he had kept up with the medical research, he would have known that in your case (you had never had a heart attack in the past) the risk of taking statins probably outweighed the benefits.
As you continue to monitor your heart disease I would urge you to find another cardiologist — at least for second opinions.
It is a low dosage and I will ween him off of it eventually. I do not like taking it either. Bramajee is a young Cardiologist and I like young since I read many things about healthcare (because of you). I did talk him down from 20 mg. With the next visit and if I am still at 110, he will drop it.
He does not know me yet and eventually he will figure out I am serious.
Just concerned about you.
I don’t think that liking a doctor is a reason to continue following his advice, even though you don’t entirely like the way the medication he is prescribing makes you feel