Cholesterol Myth Busters

Eggs Dietary Cholesterol Myth
Eggs Dietary Cholesterol Myth

Does Dietary Cholesterol Raise Blood Cholesterol?

---A myth-buster by Devi Dayal

Our body produces its own cholesterol in the liver. If dietary cholesterol comes in, by eating animal food, its production in the body reduces by that amount. In only about 30 percent people, who are genetically susceptible, dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol levels. In these people also, both good and bad cholesterol levels are raised and as we know, good cholesterol (HDL) is less atherogenic. In other words, eating dietary cholesterol neutralizes the risk of heart disease raised by rise in bad cholesterol in genetically susceptible people.

When you check your blood cholesterol in a pathology laboratory, they are measuring the amount of circulating lipids in your blood. Depending upon your diet and whether you eat animal foods or not, about 80 to 100 percent of your blood cholesterol is endogenous (produced by the liver). The remaining comes from your diet-its sources are all animal foods including meat, beef, pork, chicken, dairy (milk, curd, yoghurt, cheese etc.), seafood etc. For most people it is possible that despite eating dietary cholesterol, their blood lipid levels are normal. Also totally avoiding animal food does not guarantee that your blood cholesterol levels are normal.

Let us examine the evidences:

A recent review (2006) by Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut's Department of Nutritional Sciences: "Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations (Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2006 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 8-12)" clearly concludes that: "...... dietary cholesterol increases the concentrations of both circulating LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in those individuals who experience an increase in plasma cholesterol following egg consumption (hyperresponders). It is also important to note that 70% of the population experiences a mild increase or no alterations in plasma cholesterol concentrations when challenged with high amounts of dietary cholesterol (hyporesponders)......."

Another review by Ramsay and Jackson of University Department of Medicine and Pharmacology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield: Dietary reduction of serum cholesterol concentration: time to think again: BMJ. 1991 Oct 19; 303(6808):953-7 inferred that "the so-called step-1 diet, which is complies with the dietary guidelines given by national health authorities in several countries reduces blood cholesterol only by 0 to 4 percent."

A 2001 Meta analysis by Rianne M Weggemans, Peter L Zock, and Martijn B Katan:Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases the ratio of total to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis Am J Clin Nutr 2001:73:885-91, 2001 infers the following: Many epidemiologic studies have found that there is no effect of egg consumption on the risk of coronary heart disease. This may be because: "It is possible that the adverse effect of eggs on LDL-cholesterol is offset by their favorable effect on HDL cholesterol." It is now well known that eggs raise both LDL and HDL cholesterol in most people, but the relative rise in the two fractions may be different (high LDL) in susceptible population (30 percent). There may also be other unknown cardio-protective ingredients in eggs.

Dietary cholesterol was never a risk factor for heart disease. It was portrayed to be a villian by a group of scientists whose false assumptions and biased interpretations of scientific studies caused them to do so. In the later period, giant statin pharma companies fueled these wrong hypotheses by sponsoring flawed studies.

In my opinion: