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Are eggs recommended for high cholesterol?

Long decried for being too rich in fatty acids, can eggs increase bad cholesterol levels? Answers from Dr Jean-Michel Lecerf, specialist in endocrinology, metabolic diseases and nutrition.

There are two types of cholesterol: good and bad, distinguished by their mode of transport. LDL cholesterol, or "bad cholesterol", is responsible for distributing fatty acids from the liver to all cells in vital need.

Excess fatty acids are released back into the bloodstream and returned to the liver and other tissues by cholesterol molecules known as HDL. The latter is known as "good cholesterol". Total cholesterol corresponds to the HDL and LDL cholesterol levels, plus 1/5 of the triglyceride level. Total cholesterol is considered to be less than 2 grams per liter, and LDL cholesterol less than 1.6 grams per liter. HDL cholesterol should be above 0.40 g/l and triglycerides below 1.5 grams per liter.

Cholesterol can become harmful as it accumulates in the blood, forming fatty cholesterol deposits in the artery walls. Diet is the first pillar of prevention. Mediterranean-inspired, it is recommended for all, but especially for those who are watching their cholesterol levels. But don't exclude eggs! For a long time, eggs were criticized for containing too many fatty acids. But this is a misconception.

Eggs: how many a week?

People with high cholesterol can eat eggs in moderation. "You need to eat a lot of eggs - 14 a week - for total cholesterol to rise slightly in some people (for genetic reasons), but not in all. People with high cholesterol can therefore consume eggs without risk, as studies show no link between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, contrary to what used to be said. This was only the case for very high consumers of red meat and fats in the USA, who did not consume vegetables and dietary fibre. For reasons that remain unclear, however, diabetics need to exercise moderation, as do people with familial hypercholesterolemia", adds Dr. Lecerf.

As for the quantities of eggs that can be consumed per week, it all depends on the individual's profile. "People with no pathology can eat one egg a day, as can people with non-hereditary cholesterol. If you have hereditary cholesterol or diabetes, you should limit yourself to 2 to 4 eggs a week", explains Dr. Lecerf, who points out that eggs have many nutritional qualities. "They contain bioavailable iron, fat-soluble vitamins, carotenoids (lutein), high-quality proteins and omega-3s, depending on the hen's diet. Their consumption is associated with a reduced risk of dementia", he adds.

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