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Study Links Eating Eggs To Higher Cholesterol And Risk Of Heart Disease

eating eggs for breakfast

Eggs are a huge part of the daily diet for millions of people. They're what's for breakfast, and sometimes lunch and dinner too! Remember that big push back in the 90's, warning us that eggs were bad for us? They were linked to all kinds of health problems, like heart disease and bad cholesterol. Then, another campaign rolled around, and eggs were suddenly good for us! We were told that the science behind the nutritional value of eggs might have been off, and we should all start eating them again.

But wait! Now we're hearing that eggs might be bad for us again. We don't know about you, but we're getting egg-ceptionally confused by all this back and forth. Are eggs good for us, and should we keep eating them?

Not according to the latest research. But there could be more to the story. We'll try to crack this open for you (and we'll try to lay off the egg puns, but we can't make any promises).

It's hard to pin down whether or not eggs contribute to heart disease and high cholesterol, mostly because it's hard to get accurate information from the studies done on the matter. Some studies say that the cholesterol that's part of your daily diet doesn't necessarily equal high cholesterol.

Other studies claim that the evidence is skewed because of the lifestyles of heavy egg eaters; they are also people who are more likely to eat other foods that aren't heart healthy, and less likely to engage in regular exercise.

eggs
Credit: iStock / ninitta

But a new study shows that eggs do in fact increase one's risk of cardiovascular disease and early death. Those risks, according to Victor Wenze Zhong, a postdoctoral fellow in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the study, should be considered when deciding how big of a part eggs play in your daily diet.

Researchers looked at data from six different observational studies, involving nearly 30,000 Americans with an average age of 51. They were asked for information about their dietary habits, lifestyles, and demographic information. They were then tracked for 31 years. In that time, more than 6,100 people died, and 5,400 developed cardiovascular issues. Overall dietary cholesterol consumption and egg consumption were linked to an increased risk of health problems and premature death.

Researchers concluded that the risk of cardiovascular disease went up by 6% and the risk of premature death went up by 8% for every extra half-egg eaten per day. Federal guidelines include eggs as part of a healthy diet; the recommended amount of dietary consumption per day is 300 milligrams for a healthy person, or the equivalent of about two whole eggs.

For many people, the solution is dropping egg yolks. But that could also present a problem, since egg yolks are the primary source of many of the nutrients found in eggs, like amino acids and choline. They're also one of the only natural sources of vitamin D.

So what's the answer? To egg or not to egg? Zhong says that deciding the right amount of eggs to include in your diet is a personal decision, and it'll vary from person to person. If you have a history of cardiovascular disease, it's probably better to err on the side of caution. Talk to your doctor to find the range of eggs that works best for you.

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