What About Cholesterol, Eggs and Kids?
The egg, for many years, was thought to be a big offender in causing high blood cholesterol levels. This is a myth that newer research has busted! The egg itself is not the culprit that people once thought it was.
What is Cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy fat-like substance made by your body and found in many of your body tissues. Some facts about cholesterol:
- About 75% of cholesterol in blood is made by our bodies themselves.
- Our bodies require the cholesterol that is made or eaten to help process vitamin D.
- Cholesterol is needed to make hormones and aid digestion.
Sometimes our bodies do not properly process the cholesterol that they make or that we eat, which can be one of the causes of high cholesterol levels.
Children and High Cholesterol
Research has shown that atherosclerosis, narrowing of the arteries, can start as early as eight years old. With the fact that childhood obesity is more common today, high cholesterol and its health risks is also becoming more common. Children who are overweight, have high blood pressure or have heart disease in their family need to have their cholesterol tested and follow their doctor’s advice for any necessary changes to their diet and lifestyle.
Dietary Recommendations for Kids
The dietary recommendations for cholesterol are that you should keep your intake below 300 mg per day if you are healthy. You can keep an eye on your daily cholesterol intake by reading the nutrition labels on the foods you eat and by paying attention to portion control.
If you have high cholesterol levels, your MD will make special recommendations for your diet and daily cholesterol intake. A simple blood test at a doctor’s office can give either you or your child your blood cholesterol levels.
Good Egg or Bad Egg?
In recent research, eating eggs was not found to be directly responsible for raising blood cholesterol levels. Eggs have been found to be a good source of high quality protein. They are one of the most budget-friendly foods at less than $0.25/egg. Eggs contain varying amounts of 13 vitamins, many minerals and are about 80 calories each. In summary, eggs are a good thing for healthy kids as long as their daily cholesterol intake follows the guideline of under 300 mg/day.
Health tip: If including eggs in your diet, and cooking them at home, be sure to eat fresh eggs with intact shells. To help avoid food borne illness, wash the outside of the egg shell before you crack and prepare it.
To give you an idea of some common cholesterol levels in food, here is a list of approximate cholesterol amounts in some common foods:
- 1 large egg: 185 mg cholesterol
- 3 ½ ounces of ground beef: 78 mg
- 3 ½ ounces of chicken without skin: 85 mg
- 3 ½ ounces of shrimp: 194 mg
- 1 cup (8 ounces) of whole milk: 33 mg
- 3 ounces of steak: 50 mg
Acknowledgement: Thank you to Linda Heller, MS, RD, CSP, CLE, Clinical Nutrition Manager of Clinical Nutrition Services, for her help with reference sources for this post.