Though few people need to limit their cholesterol intake, those who do can choose egg whites and cholesterol-free cooking oils.
Q: I’m watching my cholesterol carefully but love eggs. Can I make eggs in a way that doesn’t overload me with cholesterol?
Before diving into this issue, it’s important to know that dietary cholesterol is not unhealthy. In fact, most people do not have to restrict their intake of this compound in order to maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
Cholesterol is vital to health and is needed for many important processes in your body, such as hormone production. It’s also a main structural component of your cells.
Your body makes most of the cholesterol that it needs to function optimally. However, dietary cholesterol from certain foods can be absorbed through your intestines as well.
Cholesterol absorption is highly variable and depends on many factors, including genetics and metabolic health (
Although dietary cholesterol does not heavily impact most people’s cholesterol levels, some individuals are considered cholesterol hyper-responders. This means that they experience a much larger increase in cholesterol after consuming cholesterol-rich foods like eggs (
Because cholesterol hyper-responders are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol, this population may have to reduce cholesterol intake in order to keep their levels within a healthy range.
That said, some studies suggest that whole eggs can still be safely consumed — in moderation — even by those with high cholesterol (
Regardless, eggs are cholesterol-rich, with 1 large egg containing about 186 mg — all of which is found in the yolk (
To cut down on cholesterol, simply reduce your yolk intake by preparing egg whites or mixing one whole egg with one egg white.
Although this is a good way to cut back on dietary cholesterol for cholesterol hyper-responders, it should be noted that egg yolks are packed with nutrients and should not be avoided by those who are simply looking to lose weight or improve health. In fact, studies link whole eggs to weight loss and a reduced risk of heart disease (
Another way to reduce the cholesterol content of egg dishes is to choose cholesterol-free cooking oils and fats. Swap fats high in cholesterol — such as butter and lard — with olive oil, avocado oil, or other cholesterol-free fats.
If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, examining your overall dietary intake and lifestyle choices may be a smarter choice than reducing the cholesterol levels of specific foods like eggs. Consuming unprocessed, nutritious foods, getting enough physical activity, and losing excess body weight are all healthy, effective ways to reduce cholesterol levels.
Jillian Kubala is a Registered Dietitian based in Westhampton, NY. Jillian holds a master’s degree in nutrition from Stony Brook University School of Medicine as well as an undergraduate degree in nutrition science. Aside from writing for Healthline Nutrition, she runs a private practice based on the east end of Long Island, NY, where she helps her clients achieve optimal wellness through nutritional and lifestyle changes. Jillian practices what she preaches, spending her free time tending to her small farm that includes vegetable and flower gardens and a flock of chickens. Reach out to her through her website or on Instagram.