Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

Are eggs bad for your heart? New study weighs in

Are eggs bad for your heart? New study weighs in

But a new study by Northwestern Medicine in the United States found that people who ate more eggs and dietary cholesterol had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.

Speaking to Reuters Health about the study in question, study coauthor Norrina Allen, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago says that she wouldn't go as far to say that one should stop eating eggs entirely.

A potential reason for inconsistent results in the past was the fact that other studies did not take into account that egg consumption may be related to other unhealthy behaviors, such as low physical activity, smoking and an unhealthy diet.

It's enough to put you off your breakfast: an egg a day increases the risk of heart disease by 12 per cent, an overview of research suggests.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines advised people to limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. "Bad" cholesterol-often found in animal products such as eggs, meat, and dairy products-has been linked to coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure.

The new research makes a strong case for bringing that limit back. Participants were followed for an average of 17.5 years.

In addition to the new findings on eggs, the latest study found a link between dietary cholesterol consumption and heart disease, strokes, and death from any cause.

The study can not prove cause and effect and is unlikely to be the last word on the matter, but experts said moderation was probably the safest course, advising no more than three or four eggs a week.

Eggs, especially egg yolks, are high in dietary cholesterol.

Egg yolks are the richest source of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed food - with one large egg providing 186 milligrams of cholesterol in its yolk, according to the study.


Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed 30,000 US adults over three decades and found that eating just three to four eggs per week was tied to increased cholesterol and a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease. The findings were published Friday in JAMA. Before this, several studies have said daily consumption of eggs may help in improving health of consumers, including controlling weight and blood pressure.

Why is there so much conflicting guidance on eggs?

Cardiologists say they realized that people are confused. "They are not free from industry bias", she said.

"We know that dietary recall can be awful", said Lee. "Because I don't. It's the same thing with patients".

But more recent dietary guidelines have loosened the reins on dietary cholesterol. That's because unlike a randomized controlled trial that tests the safety and efficacy of a drug, it's hard to randomly control what people eat over a long period of time, especially with a large sample size.

But the Northwestern researchers said their study suggests those guidelines may have to be looked at yet again.

So, is there a simple answer to whether you should be eating eggs or not?

"We want to remind people there is cholesterol in eggs, specifically yolks, and this has a harmful effect", Allen said.

His bottom line is the same as Allen's: "Eat eggs in moderation". In that time, 5,400 people experienced a cardiovascular event and 6,132 died. You're getting a lot of protein, though you can get that from egg whites, too. "For example, poached eggs on whole-grain toast is a much healthier meal than a traditional fry up".

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