Are egg yolks not recommended for heart and high cholesterol patients?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Are egg yolks not recommended for heart and high cholesterol patients?

Expert Answer

Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., L.D.N., is Caring.com senior food and nutrition editor and the director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet. As a practitioner of integrative nutrition, Reardon takes a holistic approach to wellness, recognizing that the foundation for optimal health and healing begins with a health-promoting diet.

Rest assure that you can have your egg and eat it too. In all likelihood you can have up to 7 eggs per week without worry about its effect on serum cholesterol levels, because it is the diet as a whole in combination with our genetics that determines our overall risk for heart disease.
Eggs are a wonderful source of protein, and the yolk, while high in cholesterol also contains essential nutrients like choline and lutein which are important for preserving our brain and eye health. Egg yolks also contain important vitamins such as vitamins B2, B5, B12 and D. The white part of the egg is an excellent source of protein. I would have you consider using a combination of egg whites and whole eggs in a 2:1 ratio to make an omelet or scramble and choose to cook the eggs in healthy oil. Remember that the risk of heart disease is influenced by our total lifestyle, not simply cholesterol levels. It is a disease that has its root in inflammation and levels of inflammation are affected by our weight, physical activity, the anti-oxidant levels in our diet and the type and amount of fats we consume. Cholesterol in fact requires saturated fat in the diet to be absorbed efficiently. So my advice is to take a look at other sources of cholesterol in the diet, namely animal products that carry a good deal of saturated fat and look to make lower fat substitutions. In addition reduce your overall intake of meats and high fat dairy while increasing your intake of plant proteins (legumes) and seafood.
Keep in mind the big picture and all that contributes to your health over time. Focus on other positive changes that you can make in the diet that will favorably impact serum cholesterol such as: "¢ Increasing your intake of soluble fiber from whole grains such as oatmeal, oat bran and barley. Try to consume 20+ grams/day. "¢ Including more heart healthy fats like olive oil, avocado, walnuts, almonds and brazil nuts "¢ Adding black beans and chick peas to meals and eating "vegetarian" a few times per week. "¢ Enjoying more cold water fatty fish (salmon, black cod, herring sardines) and trying to incorporate ground flaxseed in meals. The egg "¦ in moderation it is incredible and edible.