For years now, eggs have made new headlines every few months, with one study declaring their nutritional benefits and another implicating yolks as a potential cause of cardiovascular disease. Now, researchers say eating one whole egg a day (hold the ham) is just fine, and isn’t associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke. Egg-cellent.
What’s the Deal?
In the latest research, researchers reviewed a set of studies conducted between January 1966 and June 2012 . All the studies examined the link between egg consumption and the risk of CHD and stroke. Additionally, all studies were prospective, meaning they followed people throughout their lives and didn’t just look back at their egg-eating habits. It turns out, for non-diabetic people, there was no association between eating up to one egg a day and CHD or stroke. For diabetics, on the other hand, high egg consumption (up to one egg per day) was linked to an increased risk of heart disease, though the researchers say they didn’t look at enough studies of diabetic patients to draw any definite conclusions.
Is It Legit?
Possibly. The researchers really did their homework, and backed up their claims with a slew of reasons why eggs might not be linked to an increased risk for CHD or stroke. For one thing, some research suggests lowering the amounts of cholesterol in our diet by eating fewer eggs doesn’t actually decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) . Instead, eating a diet that’s overall low in saturated fat and cholesterol might be a better bet to help reduce the risk of CVD . The study authors also point out that eating eggs promotes the formation of larger LDL and HDL particles, which might actually protect against artherosclerosis . And there’s some evidence that eating protein-rich foods (such as eggs) instead of carbohydrates could lower the risk of CHD . Even the dose of vitamin D in eggs might help keep CVD at bay .
These findings support a range of other research suggesting that, in non-diabetic men and women, an egg a day isn’t associated with an increased risk of heart disease  . It’s also worth noting that some of the recent research demonizing eggs suggests that egg consumption is only a problem for people already at risk for heart disease .
Of course, the study authors acknowledge that there could have been errors in the measurement of egg consumption and other eating habits. And there definitely needs to be more research on the effects of high egg consumption in diabetics and people at risk for heart disease.
Those who are concerned about their cholesterol intake might consider eating just the egg whites. For everyone else, the only question is: fried, poached, or sunny-side up?
Are you concerned that eating too many eggs is unhealthy? Does this research change your mind? Let us know in the comments below or tweet the author at @ShanaDLebowitz.