The Ecology of Humans (35-2) Eggs & Cholesterol

 Eggs & Cholesterol

A long-standing bugaboo of reductionist biochemists was the health hazard of eating chicken eggs. The controversy seems unending.

Eggs provide all the essential amino acids for humans, and copious vitamins and minerals. Which makes perfect sense since an egg is, after all, the food supply for a growing embryonic chick as well as the yolk being the chick-to-be.

Egg yolks contain cholesterol. Via biochemical analysis, high cholesterol levels have been associated with coronary heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. The publicized view from the test tube was that consuming cholesterol-rich foods like eggs was like turning up the voltage to blowing one’s own porch light.

All animal fats contain cholesterol to varying extent. Only 27% of egg fat is the saturated fat that contains the so-called “bad cholesterol”: low-density lipoprotein (LDL).

LDL is 1 of 5 groups of lipoproteins. LDL enables transportation of lipids – such as cholesterol – in extracellular fluid.

Eggs are high in biotin, which is essential to cell growth and the metabolism of fats and amino acids. Biotin helps maintain a steady blood sugar level. That eggs contain biotin, though, is paltry endorsement. With exception, biotin deficiency is rare, as an excess of it is generally available from production by intestinal bacteria.

The exception to ample biotin bioavailability applies to alcoholics. Among its other wondrous effects, steady heavy drinking impairs biotin availability, though the exact mechanism is not known.

Cholesterol is essential to all animals, as it maintains cell membrane permeability and fluidity. If a cell is a motor, cholesterol is its motor oil. So, naturally, the body itself synthesizes cholesterol. And the body regulates its cholesterol level.

Proper diet and exercise help maintain the body, and so help regulate cholesterol levels. High cholesterol levels are a symptom of bodily dysfunction which exacerbates the situation.

There is no direct connection to cholesterol intake from foods and high cholesterol levels. That is not to say that there is no connection.

The major dietary sources of cholesterol include beef, pork, poultry, shrimp, cheese, and egg yolks. Of that crowd, the best nutrition one could eat, by far, is eggs.

Another dietary source of cholesterol, to infants at least, is breast milk. Plant-based foods do not naturally contain cholesterol, though peanuts and flax seeds have phytosterols: cholesterol-like compounds that may help lower blood serum cholesterol level.

The bottom line on dietary cholesterol is to minimize intake of animal fats, especially those that offer little offsetting advantage, which eggs have but which meat and dairy lack.