The argument is pretty straightforward: Egg yolks contain cholesterol, so they raise your cholesterol levels and you should avoid eating them if you’re watching your cholesterol. It’s a no-brainer, right?
But hang on a sec. While it’s true that each egg yolk contains 200 mg of cholesterol, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to see your cholesterol levels spike if you top your avo toast with a runny egg.
That’s because the amount of cholesterol in your food doesn’t appear to have a big impact on your blood cholesterol levels, according to nutritionist Sharon Richter, RD. “Foods high in saturated fat have a bigger impact on your cholesterol,” says Richter, “because your liver manufactures cholesterol from the saturated fat you eat, not from the cholesterol in your diet.” (Here’s more information about what cholesterol is and how it affects the heart.)
Egg yolks do contain saturated fat too, so before you start eating four-egg omelets for breakfast every day, keep in mind these recommendations on how often to indulge in eggs:
Aim for one egg yolk per day if your heart is healthy
Aim for three egg yolks per week if you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes or heart disease
For omelets and egg scrambles, you can always supplement your egg with additional egg whites and veggies to bulk up your meal. But don’t feel the need to ditch egg yolks from your diet entirely. “Egg yolks are a concentrated source of choline, which is an essential nutrient that plays a role in fat metabolism and may protect against cardiovascular disease,” says Richter.
Bonus: The fat in the egg yolk (which is nearly equal amounts of saturated and monounsaturated fats) can help you feel a little fuller so you’ll be less tempted by the office candy jar later on. Learn more about the difference between good and bad fats here.
Looking for a heart-healthy and veggie-packed egg dish? Try this Moroccan eggs recipe that’s full of flavor and antioxidants (not to mention perfect for brunch).