Eggs and cholesterol

Much of the confusion around eggs has stemmed from the fact that egg yolks contain cholesterol. While some cholesterol in our body is essential, the type and amount of cholesterol in our blood correlates with heart disease risk.

While egg yolks are high in cholesterol, it is saturated fatty acids that have a greater effect on our blood cholesterol levels.

Based on a thorough review of the existing research, the overall evidence for the effect of eggs on blood cholesterol has been deemed inconsistent. While the evidence is not clear enough to say there is no association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease, it is also not strong enough to continue previous recommendations which limited egg intake to three per week.

Are eggs healthy?

  • Eggs are a nutritious whole food which are an inexpensive source of protein and contain other nutrients such as carotenoids, vitamin D, B12, selenium and choline.
  • When eating eggs, it is also important to pay special attention to the foods you eat alongside them such as, white bread, butter, salt, and/or processed meats like bacon or sausages, which are not so good for our hearts.

Eggs and cholesterol

Much of the confusion around eggs has stemmed from the fact that egg yolks contain cholesterol. While egg yolks are high in cholesterol and are a major source of dietary cholesterol, it is saturated fatty acids that have a greater effect on our blood cholesterol levels and, therefore, heart disease risk.

How many eggs can I eat?

  • Based on the findings from the 'Eggs and the heart' evidence paper (PDF), the Heart Foundation's position is that New Zealanders who are at increased risk of heart disease can eat up to six eggs per week as part of a heart-healthy diet. This amount is unlikely to have any substantive influence on their risk of heart disease. View our full eggs position statement (PDF).
  • For the general healthy population, eggs can be included as part of a heart-healthy eating pattern. 
  • There are more important changes people should be focusing on, such as increasing vegetable intake, eating more whole and less- processed foods and reducing saturated fat intake, rather than restricting egg intake.

Still feeling confused about eggs and cholesterol? We've compiled some frequently asked questions and given our responses.

Eggs and the heart Q&A