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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Does scrambling eggs oxidize the cholesterol in them?

I have read in a couple of places that scrambled eggs are not good for you. One site said that by scrambling them, the cholesterol will oxidize. I love scrambled eggs so I hope this is not true.

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Scrambled eggs

The idea that oxidization of dietary cholesterol might be an issue comes from a number of sources. The problem is that none of these has been specifically linked to scrambled eggs.

A 2009 study is typical of research that has added to the confusion. Scientists looked at pure cholesterol heated to 320°F for 72 hours. (Yes, that says 72 hours.) After heating, the oxidized cholesterol was fed to hamsters and resulted in less arterial relaxation (Chen Z-Y, et al ACS 2009; AGFD 23). There are three problems with this study that are common issues with similar research looking at this effect. One is that the cholesterol used was not from eggs. Second, it was heated to a very high temperature for a prolonged period. Finally, this study did not use human subjects.

As faithful readers of Dr. Gourmet know, we seldom report on animal studies because they don't always translate well to human health. The good news is that for most of the population, consuming up to 6 eggs per week is fine. Such studies don't discriminate between the types of cooking methods used and my reading of the literature is that eating scrambled eggs occasionally should be just fine for you.

For more research information about eggs, here are some of my Health & Nutrition Bites columns about eggs:
An egg a day may help you keep your eyesight
Omega-3 fatty acids in... eggs?
Quit worrying about eggs!
Eggs don't increase risk of diabetes
Eggs and your risk of diabetes
Eggs' effect on Alzheimer's
Eggs Aren't A Problem (Dr. Tim Says column)

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet