THE EGG "CONTROVERSY" The egg is perhaps the ultimate cholesterol question mark. On the one hand, eggs are a great source of important nutrients, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and folate, that may help reduce the risk of heart disease. They also provide high levels of protein, iron and phosphorus.
However, since the 1960s, when the connection between cholesterol and heart disease first became a public health concern, it was recommended that egg consumption be restricted to only one egg per week. Why? Because one large egg contains a whopping 213 milligrams of dietary cholesterol. (The American Heart Association recommends limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.)
But studies conducted at Harvard University found that people who ate one egg per day were actually no more likely to develop heart disease or suffer a stroke than people who ate one egg per week or less. The egg yolk contains all the cholesterol (and fat), so limiting consumption of egg yolks (to no more than four per week, according to the AHA's current recommendation), and products that contain egg yolks, may be an important aspect of managing cholesterol.
THE BOTTOM LINE When it comes to cholesterol, particularly with respect to your diet, moderation is probably the best approach, whether it's eggs or any other food that can affect cholesterol. Finding a healthy balance of diet, exercise, weight management and stress reduction are vital steps in winning the battle against high cholesterol.
Winning the Fight Against High Cholesterol
KNOW YOUR CHOLESTEROL SCORE. A simple blood cholesterol test will let you (and your doctor) know your HDL, LDL and total cholesterol scores. If your scores are good, you're on the right track; if they're not so good, your doctor can help you get started on the road to better health.
KNOW WHAT YOU'RE EATING. Consume foods low in saturated fat and trans fats, and high in omega-3 fatty acids and "good" fats (such as lean meats, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables). Avoid processed foods and limit your portion sizes.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY HISTORY. A genetic history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure or heart disease can increase the risk of health problems. It means you'll have to monitor your cholesterol more closely than the average person.
EXERCISE DAILY. Just 30 minutes of physical activity a day can have a positive impact on your cholesterol levels. By the way, it also helps with weight control, prevention of numerous diseases, and can improve your overall sense of well-being and health.
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. In extreme high-risk cases, your doctor may prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs in addition to lifestyle changes. But your doctor should always pursue natural interventions, particularly diet and exercise, before prescribing any type of medication.
Peter W. Crownfield is the executive editor of To Your Health. Direct all comments and questions to