Heart attacks happen when the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked.
The leading cause of heart attacks is coronary heart disease – a condition in which the blood vessels supplying the heart get clogged up with deposits of cholesterol.
This can happen if the level of cholesterol, a type of fatty substance, in the body is too high.
When cholesterol clogs the blood vessels, they can burst and cause a blood clot, which triggers a heart attack.
In order to prevent heart attacks, heart disease and other problems of the heart, it’s vital to keep cholesterol levels down.
This can be achieved by cutting down on foods which contribute to high cholesterol, such as those which are high in saturated fat.
As cholesterol is found in some foods, such as eggs, it may seem eating them could add to cholesterol levels in the blood and raise it even further.
So it is advisable to avoid eating eggs if you have high cholesterol?
According to Heart UK, the simple answer is no.
This is because while eggs contain cholesterol, they are low in saturated fat, and it is saturated fat which is the main cause of high cholesterol.
“For the majority of people with raised cholesterol there is no reason to limit cholesterol containing foods that are otherwise low in saturated fat,” said Heart UK.
“Saturated fat has a greater influence on cholesterol levels than eating the foods that contain cholesterol.”
Eggs contain medium amounts of fat, but the white contains hardly any.
One average sized egg contains around 4.6g of fat, but only a quarter of this is saturated fat.
In addition, eggs have many nutritional benefits, such as being high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Other cholesterol-containing foods that are low in saturated fat are lean meats from animal organs, such as kidneys and liver, and shellfish.
It is advisable, however, to cut down on foods containing cholesterol that are high in saturated fat.
These include full-cream dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream, and fatty and processed meat products.
Animal fats like butter, margarine and spreads made from lard are also cholesterol-containing foods which are high in saturated fat.
“Too much cholesterol in the blood can be harmful. But for most people cutting down on eggs is not the answer – it is better to reduce the amount of saturated fat,” said Heart UK.