Can I Eat Eggs When Watching My Cholesterol?

A dietary recommendation released by the American Heart Association (AHA) in the late 1960s noted that individuals should be consuming no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol each day. It also specifically recommended against consuming more than three eggs per week due to their high cholesterol content.

A woman grocery shopping for eggs

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The recommendation had a significant impact on dietary patterns. People consumed fewer eggs and, as a result, were missing out on the nutritional benefits this food provides.

Studies later examining the effects of egg intake on individuals' cholesterol level found that, contrary to the AHA's assertions, eggs alone do not contribute to causing high cholesterol levels in otherwise healthy people.

The researchers uncovered that the real culprits behind increased cholesterol levels among egg-consuming individuals are actually what people typically consume alongside eggs—namely bacon, ham, red meat, butter, sausage, and other high-fat breakfast foods.

These foods are high in saturated fat and trans fat, major contributors to increased lipid levels and heightened risk for cardiovascular diseases.

Eggs As Part of a Balanced Diet

Eggs' reputation has since improved, and more recent dietary guidelines cite the food as a great source of healthy nutrients.

Eggs—especially the yolk—may be high in cholesterol, but they are a rich source of protein and essential amino acids. Eggs also contain many vitamins, minerals, and a fatty molecule called lecithin, which aids in transporting and metabolizing fats in the body.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, jointly published by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture, includes eggs on the list of nutrient-dense foods people should aim to eat regularly.

There are many ways to maximize the healthy benefits of eggs in your lipid-lowering diet, including watching how you prepare them.

You can eat eggs plain or mix your eggs with fresh vegetables or whole grains, rather than with foods that are high in saturated fat or sugar.

Instead of butter, use a small amount of olive oil or canola oil to prepare your eggs. If you are wanting to add flavor to your egg dish, use spices instead of salt. 

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  1. McNamara DJ. The Fifty Year Rehabilitation of the Egg. Nutrients. 2015 Oct 21;7(10):8716-22. doi: 10.3390/nu7105429. PMID: 26506379; PMCID: PMC4632449.

  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025. 9th Edition. December 2020.

Additional Reading
  • McNamara DJ. The fifty year rehabilitation of the egg. Nutrients 2015; 7: 8716-8722.