The Reason Eggs Are Controversial (And Why You Should Eat Them)
Scientists may disagree about eggs, but most evidence is in favor of eating them
Trying to keep up with eggs’ nutritional reputation (they’re good for you, they’re bad for you, they’re good for you again) is whiplash-inducing.
The constant debate centers almost exclusively around the high cholesterol content found in egg yolks. One medium-sized yolk contains 186 mg of cholesterol — 62% of the recommended daily intake. The yolk also happens to be where most of an egg’s nutrients are located. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are found here, as are minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Depending on the chicken’s feed, omega-3 fatty acids can also sometimes be found in the egg yolk.
Yes, eggs are high in cholesterol. That much is indisputable. What is frequently disputed is whether dietary cholesterol (the type of cholesterol found in food) affects blood cholesterol (specifically LDL levels, aka “bad” cholesterol). This is the point where research spirals.
In a 2019 study, Dr. Neal Barnard, the president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, reviewed 211 studies dating back from to 1950s up to the most recent data available, all of which looked at how eggs affect blood cholesterol. Barnard found that close to 90% of the studies report some kind of spike in cholesterol levels among people who consume eggs. Barnard also found that the root of the ongoing confusion seems to stem from the fact that a large percentage of recent studies on eggs and cholesterol are funded directly by the egg industry. This portion of research, Barnard says, has a tendency to downplay the findings.
“In the 1950s and ’60s, there was no egg industry funding at all for cholesterol research,” Barnard says. “All of the funding was done by noninterested bodies like governmental bodies and health foundations. Then, starting in the 1970s and 1980s and really ramping up into the current century, you see the egg industry jumping in in a very big way to try to fund research studies to show that eggs are innocuous. In recent years, 60% of the studies on eggs have been funded by the egg industry itself.”