Cholesterol in Eggs

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Too rich for our blood, it’s been thought: a belief that contributed to the steep drop in U.S. egg consumption beginning around 1950. Among our common foods, the egg is the richest source of cholesterol. One large egg contains around 215 milligrams, while an equivalent portion of meat has about 50.

Why is there so much cholesterol in the egg? Because it’s an essential component of animal cell membranes, of which the chicken embryo must construct many millions before it hatches. There is some variability in the cholesterol contents of different breeds, and the hen’s diet has some effect—a feed high in sitosterol, a vegetable relative of cholesterol, brings egg cholesterol down by a third. But these reductions still leave egg yolk way ahead of most other foods.