It’s likely you will have been told at some point in your life to eat no more than one or two eggs a week, due to their cholesterol content. Despite most medical bodies, including the WHO, stating that eggs are an excellent source of nutrition, and that an egg a day is a great addition to our diets from infancy onward, this outdated belief about eggs persists. But why? And how wrong is it?
Many people falsely assume that eating a diet high in fat will raise your blood cholesterol. This is based off flawed data from research done in the 1970s, when we did not fully comprehend the functions of fat in our bodies. At first we blamed dietary cholesterol for raising our blood cholesterol. Then, when we found that eating cholesterol puts your blood cholesterol up only for a short while. In the long term, it had no effect. Then we blamed high cholesterol on saturated fats in our diets. However, many cultures eat saturated fats in high amounts without suffering raised blood cholesterol and heart disease like we do.
The fact of the matter is, your blood cholesterol raises in response to inflammation and stress. Cholesterol is a healing fat, designed to cover over injuries in our bodies until our cells can heal them. Ordinarily, in healthy people, cholesterol will pack around a damaged section of a blood vessel, wait for white blood cells and plasma to do their jobs and heal the injury, at which point the cholesterol is dissolved and goes away. However, when injuries accumulate in our veins and arteries, our bodies are overwhelmed. The cholesterol can pile up and up inside us. This, combined with the inflexibility of an inflamed, hardened artery, will lead to heart disease. The cholesterol isn’t the cause of the problems, but a marker. It shows us that we suffer inflammation and need to heal.
Something else we are beginning to understand is that it is not high blood cholesterol, but imbalanced blood cholesterol which is the worst sign. It is a little known fact that most people who die of heart failure happen to have low blood cholesterol at point of admission to hospital. However, everyone suffering cardiovascular disease has one thing in common: they have more bad cholesterol than good cholesterol. Bad cholesterol is actually the type of cholesterol that is ready to attach to our injured arteries. It is low density, broad, and will stick to injuries. Good cholesterol is cholesterol that is dense, and freely floating in the blood. In reality, both are doing their jobs. But if your low density cholesterol levels are high, that means your blood vessels are inflamed and suffering. Which means you are at more risk of heart disease.
So how do we actually prevent cholesterol buildup in our arteries? And how do we ensure our cholesterol isn’t too low, or out of balance? Quite simply: we eat better. Sugar and most high carbohydrate foods are massively inflammatory. When we store glucose, we must store three grams of water for every gram of glucose in our bodies. When we eat grains and sugars, we feed yeast in our guts and weaken our immune systems. When we choose fruit over vegetables, we overwhelm our livers and miss out on vital micronutrients.
On the flip side, provided we avoid trans fats, increasing the amount of fats in our diet is good for us. Choose whole, natural, minimally altered fats.
Coconut oil, olive oil, lard rendered at home, fat from free range chickens, flax oil, and yes, eggs, are all full of fats which are amazingly healthy for us.
Eating fats feeds our immune system and nourishes our endocrine system, as fats dissolve and carry most of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need. This is why if we suffer from chronically bad cholesterol it is not fat we should be avoiding, but processed fats and high carb foods. By eating a high fat, low carb diet, we boost our immune system. This improves our ability to fight things that cause damage to our arteries, reducing our risk of injured blood vessels, and decreasing the amount of low density cholesterol our bodies need to carry.