Advice on Eggs is Totally Scrambled, Again
Eggs are great! Eggs are evil! Maybe the answer is somewhere in between.
Eggs, rich in protein and various nutrients, were once a mainstay of the American diet. Then science gave them a bad rap due to their high level of cholesterol, and doctors advised people to avoid them. But in 2015, the federal government gave eggs its blessing, citing research showing that the cholesterol in eggs was only weakly related to cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Now the advice has been utterly scrambled by a new study that once again berates the egg.
By examining data on 29,615 adults across an average of 17.5 years, researchers found that a combination of eating more eggs and downing 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol daily was linked to a 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease, which includes a narrowing of blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, and an 18 percent higher risk of death overall.
“The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks,” said study team member Norrina Allen of Northwestern University. “As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease.”
The findings are detailed in the March 15 issue of the journal JAMA.
Few foods have seen intake guidelines flip more than eggs. What’s going on?
One egg has between 140 and 200 mg of cholesterol, depending on size. That sounds bad. But past studies have indicated that consuming cholesterol is not strongly linked to how much cholesterol is in your bloodstream. Rather, blood cholesterol is influenced by the fats and carbs you consume, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Specifically, saturated fats and trans fats are the evildoers, according to the Heart Foundation. Eggs contain healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, which are, ironically, known to be good for the heart.
But as happens with science, understanding advances. Allen and her colleagues say previous studies that suggested eggs did not raise cardiovascular risk weren’t as comprehensive as the new one.