ARE EGGS GOOD FOR YOU OR BAD FOR YOU? Which Is It?
By Steve Blechman
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on March 19, 2019 found that people who ate as little as one and a half whole eggs daily had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in comparison to those who ate no whole eggs. The more whole eggs consumed, the greater the risk! Also, the chances of early death were increased! The researchers say that the culprit is cholesterol found in egg yolk.
This is the most definitive study published to date that reviewed data from six large prospective studies linking the effects of cholesterol in whole eggs with cardiovascular disease. A large new study involving approximately 30,000 adults over an almost 18-year-period showed that adults who consumed at least one egg daily had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Are eggs good for you, or bad for you? Which is it? Another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in May 2018 showed that egg consumption could lower your risk of diabetes! Similarly, a recent study in January 2019 published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research showed that one egg a day lowered the risk of diabetes.
For many years, we were told to limit our intake of whole eggs because of the amount of cholesterol they contain. One single egg yolk contains 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol! Older United States nutrition guidelines almost 10 years ago recommended consuming no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily. The new study states that 300 milligrams of cholesterol has a “17 percent higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease and 18 percent higher risk of all-cause deaths. The cholesterol was the driving factor independent of saturated fat consumption and other dietary fat.” (ScienceDaily, March 15, 2019.) The newer research questions those recommendations. The latest U.S. government nutrition guidelines from 2015 eliminated the strict daily cholesterol limit. This new large study is likely to change that advice! No wonder the public is so confused!
One day they tell you eggs are good for you, and you don’t have to worry about dietary cholesterol, and that saturated fat is the culprit! One shortcoming of this study is that it was an observational study. It doesn’t prove cause and effect.
Observational studies and dietary recall participants don’t always remember what they ate. Sometimes, dietary recall is not always reliable. For instance, the people who ate eggs, did they eat them fried in butter, or was it in a cheese and bacon omelet? What was clear from the study was the increased risk of heart disease from increased dietary cholesterol from eggs was apparent from the findings.
The results of this study and its findings mean that the current U.S. government dietary recommendation for dietary cholesterol may need to be re-evaluated, the authors said. Co-corresponding author Dr. Norrina Allen, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told ScienceDaily on March 15, “The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks. 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.”
Other animal products such as red meat and high-fat dairy products such as butter and cream have a high cholesterol content. Also, egg yolks are a rich source of choline. In the GI tract choline, like l-carnitine, can be converted by bacteria into trimethylamine-n-oxide (TMAO), which at high levels has been shown to possibly increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Egg yolks also contain high amounts of arachidonic acid, a potent pro-inflammatory fatty acid. Inflammation is strongly associated with increases in cardioivascular disease and cancer.
Does that mean we have to give up our eggs? Of course, not. This research is of no surprise to many egg lovers. For years egg whites have been a popular alternative to whole eggs. Some people can eat whole eggs and not raise their blood cholesterol. Genetics play a big factor! If you have high serum total cholesterol or LDL cholesterol or have a family history of cardiovascular disease, you should limit your intake of whole eggs as well as cholesterol and saturated fat found in fatty meats and high-fat dairy products.