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Eggs Exonerated from the Blame for Cardiovascular Disease (Research)



Because of egg cholesterol content, reduction in egg consumption is generally recommended to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

Recently, however, evidence has been accumulating to suggest that dietary cholesterol is less relevant to cardiovascular risk than dietary saturated fat. This randomized controlled crossover trial was conducted to determine the effects of egg ingestion on endothelial function, a reliable index of cardiovascular risk.

Forty-nine healthy adults (mean age 56 years, 40% females) underwent a baseline brachial artery reactivity study (BARS), and were assigned to two eggs or oats daily for 6 weeks in random sequence with a 4-week washout. A BARS was done at the end of each treatment phase, measuring flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD) in the brachial artery using a high-frequency ultrasound.

FMD was stable in both egg and oat groups, and between-treatment differences were not significant (egg -0.96%, oatmeal -0.79%; p value >0.05).

Six weeks of egg ingestion had no effect on total cholesterol (baseline: 203.8 mg/dl; post-treatment: 205.3) or LDL (baseline: 124.8 mg/dl; post-treatment: 129.1). In contrast, 6 weeks of oats lowered total cholesterol (to 194 mg/dl; p = 0.0017) and LDL (to 116.6 mg/dl; p = 0.012). There were no differences in body mass index (BMI), triglyceride, HDL or SBP levels between egg and oat treatment assignments.

Short-term egg consumption does not adversely affect endothelial function in healthy adults, supporting the view that dietary cholesterol may be less detrimental to cardiovascular health than previously thought.

    Source: Katz, D. L., et al. Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Int J Cardiol. 99(1):65-70, 2005.

Eggs Not Associated with Higher Cholesterol Levels (Research)



For much of the past 40 years, the public has been warned away from eggs because of a concern over coronary heart disease risk. This concern is based on three observations:
  • eggs are a rich source of dietary cholesterol;
  • when fed experimentally, dietary cholesterol increases serum cholesterol and;
  • high serum cholesterol predicts the onset of coronary heart disease.

However, data from free-living populations show that egg consumption is not associated with higher cholesterol levels. Furthermore, as a whole, the epidemiologic literature does not support the idea that egg consumption is a risk factor for coronary disease.

Within the nutritional community there is a growing appreciation that health derives from an overall pattern of diet rather than from the avoidance of particular foods, and there has been a shift in the tone in recent dietary recommendations away from "avoidance" messages to ones that promote healthy eating patterns.

The most recent American Heart Association guidelines no longer include a recommendation to limit egg consumption, but recommend the adoption of eating practices associated with good health.

Based on the epidemiologic evidence, there is no reason to think that such a healthy eating pattern could not include eggs.

    Source: Kritchevsky, S. B. A review of scientific research and recommendations regarding eggs. J Am Coll Nutr. 23(6 Supplement):596S-600S, 2004.

Eggs: No Heart Disease Risk After All (Research Roundup)



Under normal circumstances eating one egg per day does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke according to a study funded by the National Institute of Health (USA).

    Source: Burke, E. R. . Muscular Development. 36(8):40, 1999.

Eggs/Cholesterol (Research Roundup)



No statistical association was found between eggs consumption and the incidence of cardiovascular disease in an epidemiological study involving 117,933 persons who were free of cardiovascular disease at the commencement of the study.

    Source: Whittaker, J. Research roundup: eggs/cholesterol. Health & Healing. 9(10):5, 1999.

Eggs and HDL Cholesterol (Research)



The objective of this study was to examine if increased egg consumption raises serum high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in healthy individuals. This was a cross-over study set in a a private clinic for preventive health examinations in Copenhagen.

Subjects were 24 healthy adults, 12 men and 12 women, aged 23-52 (median 40) years. After a 1-week control period each person added two boiled eggs to the usual daily diet for 6 weeks. All persons were instructed not to change the lifestyle in other ways during the whole study period.

Serum HDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides were measured before, during and after 6 weeks of extra egg consumption. The corresponding serum low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was calculated from the Friedewald formula.

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After 6 weeks of extra egg consumption serum HDL cholesterol increased by 10% (P < 0.05) and total cholesterol increased 4% (P < 0.05), whereas the ratio total cholesterol/HDL cholesterol did not change significantly.

Serum triglycerides and LDL cholesterol were also unchanged. A moderate egg intake should not be rigorously restricted in healthy individuals.

    Source: Schnohr, P., et al. Egg consumption and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol. J Intern Med. 235(3):249-251, 1994.

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