Are eggs bad for your heart? New study weighs in

Henrietta Strickland
March 15, 2019

It's been debated for years: Are eggs good or bad for you?

"There's always been a [suggestion in the data] that eggs can raise cholesterol and create cardiovascular harm", said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness program at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver.

A new study finds that the beloved egg, which recently had regained some of its luster, may not be all that it's cracked up to be.

"The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks", one of the authors, Norrina Allen, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern, said in a statement.

Eating 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day - the average intake of adults in the United States - is associated with a 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent higher risk of death from any cause, according to the study.

The findings stand in contrast to past studies that suggested cholesterol had little to no association with heart disease, and that saturated fat carried the greatest risk, Lauri Wright, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, who did not work on the study, told Newsweek.

In a large trial published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, it appears that too much cholesterol in our diets, especially from egg yolks, can lead to both an increased risk of coronary artery disease and dying, with the degree of the risk correlated with how much cholesterol we eat. The lead author was Wenze Zhong, a postdoctoral fellow in preventive medicine at Northwestern.

The new findings contradict the latest dietary guidelines for Americans, released in 2015; in them, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that Americans no longer had to worry about keeping their cholesterol intake within a certain limit. However, the guidelines omit a daily limit for the substance.

The change in the dietary guidelines came as critics questioned whether the government has issued advice in the past that had proven unnecessary or exaggerated, The Washington Post reported. And each additional half an egg consumed per day was associated with a 1.1% higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 1.9% higher risk of early death due to any cause, they found.

Freeman cited concerns about the influence of the agricultural and food industry over the guidelines as a reason for this contradiction, and the general downplaying of the link between dietary cholesterol and heart disease.

Hold that three-egg omelet.

Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of cholesterol with one large.

"This suggests limiting foods rich in dietary cholesterol, such as eggs, may be important to consider when choosing a healthy eating pattern", he said. During that period, there were 1,302 deaths from heart attacks and 6,132 total deaths.

The researchers said their study looked at almost 30,000 racially and ethnically diverse United States adults from six separate studies with as much as 31 years of followup. Just cut back is their suggestion.

The latest US research on eggs won't go over easy for those can't eat breakfast without them.

Zhong, however, emphasized that the study was observational and couldn't prove dietary cholesterol or egg intake could cause cardiovascular disease or death. "We found cholesterol, regardless of the source, was associated with an increased risk of heart disease".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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