Is Dietary Cholesterol Hazardous to Heart Health?

Health & Wellness, Heart Health

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The American Heart Association recently released a scientific advisory statement on dietary cholesterol and heart disease (see link below) led by my colleague  Dr. JoAnn Carson.

https://professional.heart.org/professional/ScienceNews/UCM_505397_Dietary-Cholesterol-and-Cardiovascular-Risk.jsp?utm_campaign=sciencenews19-20&utm_source=science-news&utm_medium=email&utm_content=phd12-16-19&j=71724491&sfmc_sub=1009967117&l=8024883_HTML&u=624708586&mid=10171707&jb=0

I also wrote the commentary for the statement that is accessible using the following link:

https://professional.heart.org/professional/ScienceNews/UCM_505399_When-Dietary-Cholesterol-Is-Most-Hazardous-to-Cardiovascular-Health.jsp

A diet high in cholesterol is often heavily concentrated in animal-based saturated (and trans) fats… think eggs and bacon.  This has made it difficult to sort out the singular contribution of dietary cholesterol in assessing risk of a heart attack.  Of the studies that have focused specifically on egg supplementation, results have generally been inconclusive and there are limited data to support restricting eggs in otherwise healthy individuals.  In fact, the new advisory supports up to 1-2 eggs daily if you have normal cholesterol levels and do not have cardiovascular disease.

When it comes to eggs, I recommend the following for my patients:

  1. 1-2 eggs daily if you have normal cholesterol & do not have heart disease, as per the AHA statement: I define normal cholesterol as an LDL (“bad cholesterol”) level below 100 mg/dL.
  2. 2 egg whites per egg yolk up to 3 times weekly if you have heart disease or abnormal LDL levels (between 100 to 160 mg/dL)
  3. Complete egg yolk restriction if you have very high LDL levels (above 160 mg/dL). Bottom Line: As dietary cholesterol is solely obtained from animal sources, consuming a primarily plant based diet as endorsed in the current AHA advisory statement represents a sensible long-term approach for optimizing heart health and overall well-being.
  4. Check out my interview on Eggs on “The Doctors” Show
  5. Michael Miller, MD is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland  and author of Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease” published by Penguin Random House.

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