Three Eggs a Day Keep the Doctor Away! | Chris Kresser

Three Eggs a Day Keep the Doctor Away!

by

Published on

3 eggs a day, how many eggs a day is too many
Eggs are an important staple of a healthy diet. iStock.com/YinYang

The persistent myth that cholesterol causes heart disease has scared many of us away from eating eggs on a regular basis. But there is absolutely no research that links egg consumption to heart disease.

A recent review of the scientific literature published in Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care clearly indicates that egg consumption has no discernible impact on blood cholesterol levels in 70% of the population. In the other 30% of the population (termed “hyperresponders”), eggs do increase both circulating LDL and HDL cholesterol.

You’ve probably been conditioned to believe that anything that raises LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad” cholesterol) should be avoided like the plague. But recent research suggests that it’s not the amount of cholesterol in an LDL particle (a.k.a. LDL cholesterol, or LDL-C) that drives heart disease risk, but instead the number of LDL particles in the bloodstream.

If anything, egg consumption is likely to protect against heart disease because it increases the proportion of large, buoyant LDL particles. Larger LDL particles can carry more cholesterol, which means fewer particles are needed overall. In other words, egg consumption may decrease LDL particle concentration, which is the most significant risk factor for heart disease.

Eggs one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. One egg provides 13 essential nutrients, all in the yolk (contrary to popular belief, the yolk is far higher in nutrients than the white).

Eggs are an excellent source of B vitamins, which are needed for vital functions in the body, and also provide good quantities of vitamin A, essential for normal growth and development.

The vitamin E in eggs protects against heart disease and some cancers; eggs also contain vitamin D, which promotes mineral absorption and good bone health.

Eggs are rich in iodine, for making thyroid hormones, and phosphorus, essential for healthy bones and teeth.

Eggs are also good sources of antioxidants known to protect the eye. Therefore, increased plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in individuals consuming eggs are also of interest, especially in those populations susceptible to developing macular degeneration and eye cataracts.

There’s absolutely no reason to limit your consumption of eggs to three to four per week, as recommended by “heart-healthy” nutritional guidelines. In fact, consuming two to three eggs per day would provide a better boost to your health and protection against disease than a multivitamin supplement. Eggs truly are one of nature’s superfoods.

It’s important, however, to make sure that you buy organic, pasture-raised eggs. Studies show that commercially-raised eggs are up to 19 times higher in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Unfortunately, almost all eggs sold in supermarkets – even the organic eggs sold at chains such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats – are not truly pasture-raised. To find these eggs, check your local farmer’s market or visit the Eat Wild website to locate a source in your area.

To read more about heart disease and cholesterol, check out the special report page.

Cholesterol and Heart Disease Myths

Sign up for a Free E-Mail Series

Debunking 5 common (but dangerous) myths about cholesterol that could be putting you at risk.

I hate spam too. Your email is safe with me.

139 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. Hi there,

    I was consulted to take 2-3 eggs before hitting gym. But i’m worried about one thing, since eggs are laid by female chickens, taking eggs with estrogen as daily routine wouldn’t effect anything in males(human)? Such as decrease in testosterone productivity or unusual changes for future entity from same family.

    Waiting for your response. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Mango.

    • i ate eggs for years while training, no problems, but watch out for to much soy, thats estrogen laced

  2. How can we check the PUFA or MUFA profile of certain eggs so we know which to get? I looked at so many different brands (at the regular supermarket and at health food places), and I could NOT find one brand that listed the PUFA or MUFA content or ratio. They only list the total fat content and saturated fat content? Is it sufficient enough to just pick an organic brand that is pasture-raised and assume that they have a 4:1 MUFA to PUFA ratio?

  3. Good information on heart disease ruined by recommendation to eat eggs. I’ve done leading edge cardiovascular testing, measuring heart rate variability and ANS function with pulse wave analysis (accelerated photoplethysmography) on hundred of people of all ages in both the US and Finland. My undocumented observation is that the big egg eaters do not test well. My documented before and after screenings show that when we take them off eggs they test better. A minuscule amount of people in the developed world has access to “clean eggs”. Chicken and egg farming is gross Biz. Poor advice on an otherwise useful series of articles. Why are you not teaching people about the endothelium? And how to keep it healthy? That’s the leading edge of cardiovascular care. Not eggs!

  4. Hi there,

    I was consulted to take 2-3 eggs before hitting gym. But i’m worried about one thing, since eggs are laid by female chickens, taking eggs with estrogen as daily routine wouldn’t effect anything in males(human)? Such as decrease in testosterone productivity or unusual changes for future entity from same family.

    Waiting for your response. Thank you.

    Regards,
    Mango.

  5. Yeah, the quality of this science is neatly epitomized by the statement that eggs are a good source of lutein. Eggs are a minuscule source of lutein–and what they have comes from feeding laying chickens lutein-rich plants like marigolds specifically in order to get some lutein into eggs, in order to enable the egg industry and naive advocates like Kresser to say that eggs are a great source of lutein. They’re not; a few leafs of spinach, or virtually any green, has more than half a dozen eggs.

  6. Is there concern that eating eggs (especially whites) can contribute to inflammation for those with leaky gut? Something I’m very interested in as I exhibit autoimmune symptoms (skin conditions, low grade inflammation, constantly running nose/watery eyes) but I love my eggs.

    Is it worth cutting them out to see if some of the autoimmune symptoms improve?

    • I’d love to hear others responses about this too. In the last few months, I’ve added back eggs (had previously avoided them for years)..They’re organic and from pastured hens.. I upped them to two/day for two weeks… One week ago, I developed a hip problem that feels inflammatory. I’ve now stopped the eggs totally to see if there’s any shift… I am very cautious with inflammatory foods in general…. no grains, soaking and dehydrating nuts and seeds, fermented veggies, no added sugar, lots of dark greens… everything pretty much organic… perhaps too many nuts and seeds.. don’t know…. hoping it was the going from one egg to two.

    • Yes it is worth trying to cut them out to see if they stop, I cut them out for a month and now when I eat them I notice that I get an itchy throat.

  7. Gosh!! And if most of American GI’s that had autopsies done during Vietnam and Korean wars and were between ages of 19-24. Yikes all with advanced ATHERSCLEROCIS. I mere blood lipid test only tells what’s floating in your arteries at that moment. The GI’s all had advanced heart disease yes at 19!!
    So if you can convinnce mankind to the actual condition and health of ones arteries ie: diseased say by the age of 45—- convince to eat 3-6 eggs a day? If you had heart disease can you arrest and reverse it eating like this?? I would love the knowledge to know. I was eating grass fed eggs 3 a day and coconut oil lots of veggies and fruit— no simple carbs, sugar etc and my blood pressure and cholesterol levels went up through the roof! Stopped doing it and everything is normal with blood pressure at 110 / 70 and feel so much better and NO I do not use oils in my diet as most are rancid and treated with hexane gas.
    Please– any comments.

  8. Hi, Chris. I eat eggs from pastured hens almost every day for breakfast. I love them! But I recently read a older post on MDA, in which Sisson warns against eating eggs so regularly. He people who eat eggs every day run the risk of developing an allergy to them. Do you agree?

    • No, allergies to egg’s are mostly from cooking them, people that are allergic knowingly so, should avoid – obviously but some reports have shown that while allergic to cooked they were not allergic to raw, cooking anything changes its structures, put a flame to a sheet of paper if you have any doubts

  9. I am wondering if you agree it is safe to feed a 1yr old child a 3-1/2 minute cooked egg yolk? Is there much risk of salmonella or other contamination?
    I also read your article on the safety of raw milk. Do you believe raw milk is safe for young toddlers (1-2yrs old), or best fed only to older children?

  10. I am curious if you recommend eating eggs raw or cooked for the most nutritional value. I have read differing opinions on the bioavailabilty of cooked vs. raw egg protein, in particular.

  11. I don’t see how it’s practical at all to get eggs for most folks at anywhere but the grocery store. In my case, where I don’t really have the time to make dozens of trips all over my region to get food, would it be better just to avoid eggs all together then?

  12. I eat 3 eggs with my breakfast and was wondering if this were harmful so I decided to look and see. What I have learned explains why I seek them. See I am a school bus driver and need to maintain good vision, most especially I need the b vitamins since the job admittly comes with it’s share of stress. I find that getting 30 min of exercize each day helps most with stress and cardio vascular health.

  13. i am eating 6 eggs a day its part of the bodybuilding program i was intorduced to, im 17 . is that a problem?

    • Not a problem if you do not care about your health. You do not need as much protein as you might think if you would get good protein from avocado, nuts, seeds, beans and vegetables.

      • People need to be very careful about eating certain legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and other plants that are improperly prepared by not being soaked, sprouted, fermented and/or cooked first. The various techniques all depend on the type of food source and the types of Anti-nutrients contained in each.

        These techniques are done to drastically reduce toxins that are naturally produced within the plant, which came about in the plant’s evolution to assist themselves in proper germination as well as to ward off any persistent predators.

        Cooking alone does not always reduce several Anti-nutrients to any meaningful degree. They can then go on to hinder reproductive health, exacerbate cancers and inflammatory conditions, slowly poison the body with harmful substances and create other auto-immune responses that ensures the plants remain intact long enough to procreate without being eaten to extinction.

        While legumes, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and other plants can be particularly nutrient-dense and store highly beneficial nutritional content, Anti-nutrient substances like Phytates, Lectins, Saponins, Haemagglutinates, Oxalic Acid and a wide combination of other toxins within them can be very dangerous to our various bodily systems when eaten to excess, unless they have been properly prepared beforehand. The bad effects can accumulate over time and they are very difficult for the body to assimilate or remove if the offending foods keep being eaten.

        Raw/underprepared grains and legumes contain some of the highest concentrations of Anti-nutrients in the plant food family. Don’t just take my word for it – Science can demonstrate repeatedly the adverse workings of these humble foods that we can take for granted. Some Anti-nutrients are noted to have a beneficial effect on the body in small doses and a large proportion of indigenous and many old Western peoples had an innate understanding of how to prepare certain raw foods prior to eating them.

        Nowadays, industrially-produced food typically can simply forsake preparation for other perceived gains, despite the deleterious effect on population health and well-being. This means that many manufactured foods, even ones touted as “Healthy” or a “Superfood”, are usually feeding people with excess Anti-nutrients and are implicated in particular chronic health problems the world over. If your diet includes a high amount of grains or legumes, be especially careful. Legumes include peas, beans, soybeans and peanuts among others, while grains include wheat, corn, rice, oats and barley among others.

        Certain animals can instinctively avoid them, as the naturally-occurring chemical defences are known to have a dangerous effect on the health of those eating them. Some Anti-nutrients will steal or block the essential elements, trace elements & minerals required for healthy metabolism. Others will shut down, mimic or damage cellular processes that can affect the muscles, bones, organs (including brain), blood and skin… My own body has indicated to me on numerous occasions that certain edible plants are to be left alone or at least enjoyed in minimal quantities.

        Our bodies are very capable of letting us know what hurts them or if they encounter deficiencies in our health, but we are often so busy in our outside lives that we often ignore both the subtle and the glaringly obvious inside of us. Knowledge is power and it is your best defence against keeping you safe from the multitude of dangers out there, even in your foods. Viewing the research and having a basic understanding of the biology behind it, that is why I am now a former Vegan and reverting back to a more healthful Vegetarianism.

        By the way, eggs are brilliant. Free-roaming, pasture-fed, organic eggs are even better. Chickens are supposed to eat small animals (especially insects), grasses, certain fruits/vegetables and a small number of grains that make their unfertilised eggs a wonderful addition to the human diet. Instead, our food industries give them a heavy diet of grains, legumes or even other chickens ground up into their meal. As I speak, there are no eggs for sale at my local supermarket that are exclusively free range, pasture-fed and organic… yet. And the ones that come close normally command a great premium too.

        I would happily eat three a day, as long as I know that the animals they come from are not being mistreated, neglected or made ill just because I’m hungry.

        • First I applaud your pursuit to find the most healthy and ethical diet you can.

          Continuing with that spirit, I would like to share my perspective with a few of your claims. Specifically:

          EGGS
          Chris: “I would happily eat three a day, as long as I know that the animals they come from are not being mistreated, neglected or made ill just because I’m hungry.”

          Jeremy: As you acknowledged, this is extremely difficult when you said, “There are no eggs for sale at my local supermarket that are exclusively free range, pasture-fed and organic.”

          Eggs from happy well cared for animals simply do not exist. Specific examples include:

          –> How male chicks are treated. These non-egg laying bi-products of the industry are tossed into the trash or ground up in rendering machines while they are still alive calling out for their mothers.
          –> Females have the tips of their beaks cut off while they are fully conscious.
          –> When females stop producing eggs after 1-2 years they are sent to slaughter, even though they would live to be 15-20 years old.

          Free range eggs do not change this cycle of violence.

          From a health perspective eating eggs, from any source, still contains animal protein. It has been evidenced extensively that animal protein is one of the primary causes to being overweight or dying from heart disease, cancer, etc. There’s no such thing as healthy meat, dairy and eggs, just like there’s no such thing as healthy cigarettes.

          DAIRY
          Chris: “…that is why I am now a former Vegan and reverting back to a more healthful Vegetarianism.”

          Jeremy: Vegetarianism is neither more healthful or more ethical than veganism. The dairy industry is part of the same machine that produces meat. Specific examples include:

          –> Male calfs. Similar to male chicks on an egg farm, male calves are considered useless as they cannot produce milk. As a result they are turned into veal, one of the most horrific practices in existence. This industry would not exist without the dairy industry. Female cows have to give birth to produce milk and their calves don’t simply disappear.
          –> Female Cows only produce milk for 3-7 years. After this they are sent to slaughter, which contributes to 90% of the hamburger meat, even though they could live from 18-25 years. The consumption of dairy products supports this cycle.
          –> Conditions in modern dairy farms aren’t dissimilar to those in factory farms. I’m happy to provide video evidence to further substantiate this if need be.

          These animals live horrific lives, regardless of what trigger word such as “free range” or “organic” is put on the packaging. Additionally, there are no nutrients that animal protein provides (Including dairy and eggs) that isn’t sufficiently if not better provided by plant-based protein.

          Getting a bit more literal, milk and cheese is the lactic discharge from another species. Eggs are the discharge from a hen’s period which comes straight from their backside. (That’s right, only one hole) There’s nothing natural, necessary, or justifiable about vegetarianism over veganism. I welcome your comments to the contrary.

          I encourage you to keep up the fight of being a vegan. I think you’ll find it’s more in line with the values you mentioned in your post and not as hard to thrive on as some may think.

  14. Here’s the study Chris M told me about, I think. He wasn’t sure it was the right one. However, it’s by the same key author and university. They found that the low-PUFA eggs were practically identical to a low-egg diet in their effect on LDL oxidation, while high-PUFA eggs increased oxidation of LDL particles. I’ve seen a lot of other studies like this that show anti-oxidants are over-rated and it’s better to simply minimize the consumption of foods that cause (per)oxidation.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18442246?

  15. I wanted to bring up this study. Scientists found that normal eggs caused increased LDL oxidation, as did eggs enriched with omega-3 and Vitamin E. But when they developed a low-PUFA egg with a higher ratio of MUFAs to PUFAs, the LDL oxidation did not increase at all.

    http://www.animalscience.com/uploads/additionalFiles/QualityOfPoultryMeat/11.pdf

    Chris Masterjohn mentioned a similar study, which is what led me to this. The study he mentioned is a different one, however. Making eggs with a higher MUFA:PUFA ratio gave a strong protection against LDL oxidation, whereas making eggs with more anti-oxidants or omega-3 fats had no benefits. I believe that a high ratio of MUFA:PUFA and SFA:PUFA is ideal.

    The regular eggs had a 2:1 MUFA:PUFA ratio, while the high MUFA:PUFA eggs had a 4:1 ratio of oleic acid (18:1 n-9) to linoleic acid (18:2 n-6). I use eggs with a 4:1 MUFA-PUFA ratio (2g of MUFA, 0.5g of PUFA). They have a 3:1 ratio of SFA to PUFA (1.5g of SFA). A lot of eggs have twice as much PUFAs, based on nutritional data (accurate to 0.5g of fat). I would look for eggs with the least PUFAs (pref 0.5g).

    The push for omega-3 eggs is dangerous. Even Mercola stopped advising people to eat omega-3 eggs, because they spoil faster and the sources of omega-3 fats are frequently toxic. People would be a lot healthier if farms focused on minimizing the PUFA content of meat, eggs, dairy, etc. Rather than feeding foods like soy that increase it vastly.

    • where do you find these kinds of eggs w/ 4:1 MUFA-PUFA ratio? What brands have low PUFA? I only see regular eggs and omega-3 eggs around most stores.

      • Whole Foods offer pasture raised chickens and eggs.

        Also the farmer’s markets have vendors that sell pastured eggs, but make sure they are not free ranged, but pastured. Pastured chickens are allow to roam on grass and shrubs and have the choice to forage for worms and bugs, shrubs etc., their natural diet that they would find out out in nature and they have a choice also to eat the feed left out for them. Free ranged mean they are allow to roam on cement yards and the only food is the feed that is given to them, so the quality of the eggs that they produce is different, depending on the feed that they get and if they can forage in their home environment.

    • Great post Chris, and awesome comment Bruce. For some reason, I instinctually stay away from any eggs labeled “omega-3 enhanced” or the likes. I am glad to see my preconceived notions were sound!

      I am going to try and buy eggs from local farmer’s markets exclusively this spring/summer. I would really love to build my own chicken coop eventually (and perhaps get a milking cow).

  16. Bruce,

    I completely agree with you about the harmful effects of PUFA and the lack of awareness on this issue in the mainstream health and medical world. The research is clear that PUFA are far more dangerous than saturated fat and cholesterol – which actually turn out to be innocent.

    Regarding eggs: while it’s true that there’s no evidence linking egg consumption specifically to heart disease, I do believe that supermarket eggs (which contain up to 19x more omega-6 fatty acids than pasture-raised eggs) should be avoided for numerous reasons. While the amount of PUFA in an egg is relatively low, most of it will be the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid in a commercial egg. Eggs from pasture-raised chickens have 2/3 more vitamin A and 7 times the amount of beta-carotene than battery-raised eggs. They are also higher in B12, folic acid and vitamin E.

    Then of course there are the more obvious health risks that come with battery-raised eggs, such as exposure to the antibiotics and hormones the animals are treated with and increased chances of salmonella and other diseases due to overcrowding.

    Best,
    Chris

    • Rather than dance around the varieties of eggs trying to carefully select those that are not harmful, why not just eliminate them from your diet. It is clear from long living healthy populations most of which do not consume dairy, that leaving out eggs is not a problem. In fact it is clear from reading these pages that many people are taking away the message that all eggs are OK not even that some are good and some are bad. A Harvard health study highlighted that eggs appeared to increase the risk of prostrate cancer.

  17. Eggs only have about 0.7g of PUFA, give or take. They are not where people are getting the overload of omega-6 fatty aicds. Soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, rapeseed oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil oil are vastly more dangerous. The amount of omega-6 in half a dozen eggs is less than a serving of potato chips or other junk food or an ounce of peanuts. Those are the foods people should be told to avoid, not the eggs.

    The high-carb and high-PUFA diet most people eat today causes cancer and many other diseases, including heart disease. I don’t understand this article completely. You start by saying “there is absolutely no research” linking egg consumption with heart disease. Then you say that 99% of the eggs people are eating are pro-inflammatory. This is speculation, IMO.

    • There is research linking animal protein with cancer and heart disease. Please validate your article with the name of one person that reversed heart disease while consuming three eggs a day…

        • Read much? I asked for a study where participants reversed heart disease while consuming three eggs a day…

          Where did your study find all those healthy people, certainly not in the US on a typical Western Diet. It has been proven that children at 10 have the yellow streaks which indicate the start of heart disease. Autopsies have demonstrated that most men over 20 have heart disease.

          Eggs have been shown to increase the growth of prostate cancer, even one per day.

          • Did you even read that link ? It is not one study but a summary of all available evidence.

            • You really do not read much….

              All the studies on that link are short…you read my comment? Takes years to develop cancer, not weeks or months!

              Those studies are worthless and contradict long term studies that relate the consumption of eggs to increase growth in prostate cancer….

        • Did you happen to take notice of the length of those studies? Cancer normally takes decades to develop, not a few weeks. Heart disease also takes time to develop and cholesterol levels normally studied are from 180 to 250 which is an invalid range to be looking at. There is evidence that indicates what is needed to avoid heart disease is a long history of LDL in the 70 range and total below 150.

          • Richard seems to be combining several questions into one
            Is LDL cholesterol a risk factor for heart disease? yes, although some research suggests that particle size is also important , not just actual LDL numbers
            Can eggs elevate LDL cholesterol significantly ? No for most people unless you are an LDL hyper-responder
            Is there any evidence that egg consumption increases your risk of heart disease? Not really. See the latest summary of all evidence published till now at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28359368 . Also see extensive review from the Heart Foundation – see summary in section 14 http://assets.heartfoundation.org.nz/shop/submissions/eggs-and-the-heart-evidence-paper.pdf

            • Your reading skills need assistance. Get someone to help you read my comment because your last comment makes no sense…
              Everyone in the world that knows how to do research knows that what you consume does not have that large of an impact on your cholesterol levels…
              Eat your eggs and leave me out of it please…

              • Do you mean eat any old eggs, even those from battery farmed chickens who are kept beak to beak (sorry no beaks they are removed at birth) in confined cages. Who’s chicks not deemed useful or productive are ground alive in a large version of a nutri bullet. Even ‘free range’ eggs are produced in large sheds with many chickens not seeing the light of day.

[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]