We have long known that high levels of cholesterol in the blood correlate with an increased risk of heart disease. And we also know how that cholesterol got there: through the consumption of rich foods. One type of food that was considered to be particularly unhealthy in this respect — and therefore to be eaten infrequently — was the egg, particularly the yolk of the egg.
However, a large-scale study, published in the journal The BMJ, has shown that eggs do not increase the risk of heart disease. Even though egg yolks contain high levels of cholesterol, they do not affect heart disease, even if eaten daily.
Cholesterol itself is a fatty substance that plays a fundamental role in many essential bodily functions. Among its other functions, it supports the production of new cells, the production of new hormones, and helps with the absorption of vitamins.
At one time it was thought that the liver’s production of cholesterol was mainly influenced by the amount of cholesterol in a person’s diet. But this idea has been shown to be at best incomplete — and at worst, fundamentally false. Indeed, it has been shown that other factors, such as unhealthy fats, play a far greater role in the liver’s production of cholesterol.
There are two types of cholesterol: low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). LDL transports cholesterol to areas where it is needed, while HDL disposes of cholesterol which is no longer needed.
High levels of LDL are known to be unhealthy, since they can cause arteries to become clogged, thereby increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes. High levels of HDL are considered healthy, since they remove excess LDL.
There remains a great deal of controversy regarding the role and appropriate levels of HDL and LDL for optimum health. But what is no longer at question is the fact that eggs are a healthy food. Not only do eggs contain large amounts of vitamins A, a variety of B vitamins, vitamin D, iodine, and folate, they are also an inexpensive source of high-quality protein.
Medical knowledge is constantly changing. Many foods that were once considered unhealthy are now considered healthy, and vice versa. It would seem wise to maintain a varied and well-balanced diet, with good sources of lean proteins, healthy fats, and large quantities of vegetables along with some fruit. And don’t forget some eggs for breakfast!
Beacon of LIFE, in Oceanport, NJ, is a government-approved PACE program created to provide seniors, their family, caregivers and professional health care providers the flexibility to meet their health care needs while continuing to live in their community.
Beacon of LIFE maintains an interdisciplinary team of professionals who give each client the coordinated care they need. Our staff specialize in working with older people, and work with each client and their family to develop the most effective plan of care.
Our care and services allow people who would otherwise need to live in a nursing home to live where they want — in their own communities, in their own homes.