The Humble Egg
Long vilified by well-meaning doctors and scientists for their high cholesterol content, eggs are making a comeback and showing their healthy side!
Concern over how many eggs to consume has been based on the old assumption that eating eggs raised blood cholesterol, increasing your risk for artery and heart disease. But eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin, and folate.
Research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet. Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals (1, 2) and can be part of a healthy diet.
There is always an exception: More research has to be done to confirm the effects for diabetics and the 0.2 percent of the population with familial hypercholesterolemia.
Eating eggs and losing weight?
Interestingly, in a controlled trial where people were instructed to eat up to three eggs per day while on a weight loss diet, they not only lost weight but decreased inflammation and maintained or improved their blood cholesterol levels.
Eggs were the focus of a large study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, following more than 1000 middle-aged men for 20 years. After decades of data was analysed, they found that there was no connection between the consumption of eggs or dietary cholesterol and the risk of heart or arterial health concerns.
In another study, regular consumption of eggs actually raised the good (HDL) cholesterol in a group of subjects with Metabolic Syndrome, which includes symptoms like abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglycerides and low HDL levels.
Bottom line: Moderation is key. While all of this research doesn’t give you the go ahead to eat three omelettes a day, evidence supports the idea that eating an egg a day is generally safe for the heart. Be aware of what you eat with your eggs. Scrambled eggs, salsa and whole grain toast is a far different meal than scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, fries and white toast.
1. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999; 281:1387-94.
2. Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9:8-12.