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The question

I have a healthy cholesterol level but I'm worried about always eating scrambled eggs on the weekend. How many eggs can a healthy person consume per week?

The answer

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The concern with eggs has to do with their high cholesterol content - 190 milligrams per one egg. Nutrition guidelines to keep LDL (bad) blood cholesterol in the desirable range have emphasized limiting dietary cholesterol - abundant in egg yolks, shrimp, liver and duck - to less than 300 milligrams per day. (Elevated LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream is a major risk factor for heart disease.)

If you have high blood cholesterol, the American Heart Association advises consuming less than 200 milligrams of cholesterol each day.



The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada does not recommend a specific cholesterol intake for healthy people but rather stresses the importance of limiting saturated and trans fats to help control blood cholesterol.



In a 2008 study, researchers followed 21,327 male physicians for 20 years and found that egg consumption - up to 6 per week - was not linked with a greater risk of heart attack, stroke or dying from all causes.



Research has shown that eating one egg a day does not boost the risk of heart disease or stroke in healthy adults. That said, research does suggest that people with diabetes are more efficient at absorbing cholesterol from foods than people who don't have diabetes.



In a 2008 study, men who ate 7 or more eggs per week versus less than one had a twofold greater risk for all cause mortality, presumably from heart disease. An earlier study from Harvard School of Public Health found that among those with diabetes, egg-a-day eaters were a bit more likely to develop heart disease than those who rarely ate eggs.



So, back to your question: how many eggs can you safely eat? If you're healthy, one whole egg a day seems perfectly safe. If you're a male with diabetes, it's prudent to limit egg yolks to four per week.

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Send dietitian Leslie Beck your questions at dietitian@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Leslie Beck.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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