Cholesterol is the boogeyman of nutrition. While you might not taste the cholesterol in foods, many favorites, like steak and eggs, contain a lot of it. It's sneaky.
And its effects on health are stealthy, too. You can be in decent shape from a physical standpoint and still have high levels of cholesterol. That can lead to coronary heart disease, a condition in which plaque builds up inside your arteries and puts you at a greater risk of having a heart attack—you've heard about it in plenty of pharmaceutical commercials.
But egg-lovers, rejoice: a new study out of Finland found that eggs and other foods that are high in cholesterol don't raise risks to heart health.
The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed about 1,000 men aged 42 to 60 years old and tracked their diets for around 21 years. A third of the subjects carried the ApoE4 gene, which is known to increase the risk for heart disease and Alzheimer's.
Over the course of the study, 230 men developed heart disease. When researchers took into account age, smoking status, body mass, diabetes, and other factors, they found there wasn't a correlation between heart disease and cholesterol consumed, even for those that carried the ApoE4 gene.
The subjects consumed an average of about 2,800 milligrams of cholesterol a week, with more than 25 percent of cholesterol consumed coming from eating four eggs over the course of the week. Eggs are cholesterol-heavy little things and clock in at about 180 grams of cholesterol each. A Quarter Pounder with Cheese from McDonald's, by comparison, contains about 100 grams.
Per usual, the study's researchers are stressing that cholesterol should be consumed in moderation. After all, the study's subjects, who didn't demonstrate a correlation between cholesterol intake and heart disease, weren't eating four-egg omelets every single day.
"Moderate intake of cholesterol doesn't seem to increase the risk of heart disease, even among those people at higher risk," the study's lead author, Jyrki K. Virtanen, told The New York Times.
While it isn't a go-ahead to stuff your face with foods that were previously considered bad for the heart, Virtanen said that healthy people shouldn't worry about eating an egg a day. Go nuts on that eggs Benedict.