Posted on Feb 11, 2021, 5 p.m.
Eggs, one day they are fine, the next they are not. It seems like opposing views publish reports to contradict the other as soon as information arises. Some people believe that eggs can be part of a healthy diet and others warn that the cholesterol can be bad for the heart in this highly debated topic.
Now, a new study from Zhejiang University published in the journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that both arguments could be right, finding that egg whites can be healthy but adding the cholesterol from 2 whole eggs to your daily diet can significantly increase the risk of death, fueling heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. The team warns that only egg whites should be used or people should choose healthier egg alternatives.
Previously, two prospective studies published in 2019, one in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and another in The BMJ, both concluded eating one egg daily does not increase the risk for CVD. The researchers also noted that “the most recent meta-analysis [in 2015] showed heterogeneous results about the relationship between dietary cholesterol and the risk of CVD death, coronary artery disease and stroke.”
An average whole egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol, these findings suggest that those adding an additional 300 mg of cholesterol (about 2 eggs) are 19% more likely to die prematurely, with the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease increasing by 16% and the risk of dying from cancer increasing by 24%. For every additional half of a whole egg consumed daily the risk of death was found to increase by an additional 7%.
“In this study, intakes of eggs and cholesterol were associated with higher all-cause, CVD, and cancer mortality,” researchers Yu Zhang, Jingjing Jiao, and their team write. “The increased mortality associated with egg consumption was largely influenced by cholesterol intake.”
Many countries, including America, list eggs in their national dietary guideline, but this team of researchers suggest that people should avoid eating the yolk as this is where the majority of the harmful cholesterol is coming from.
“Our findings suggest limiting cholesterol intake and replacing whole eggs with egg whites/substitutes or other alternative protein sources for facilitating cardiovascular health and long-term survival,” study authors report.
“The current recommendations for egg and dietary cholesterol intake from the U.S. dietary guidelines might lead to increases in cholesterol intake, which could be detrimental to the prevention of premature death. Clinicians and policymakers should continue to highlight limiting cholesterol intake in the U.S. dietary recommendations, considering our results.”
Cholesterol can build up in the arteries and lead to a clot that can block the supply of blood to the brain. Lesser known is that when an egg is consumed TMAO is released into the bloodstream by gut bacteria. TMAO can promote the growth of tumors in the bladder, bowel, breast, ovaries, and prostate gland as well as make the digestive tract especially vulnerable.
These findings are based on the analysis of a food survey involving Americans between the ages of 50-71 years of age, examining 129,328 deaths among 521,120 participants from 1995 to follow up in 2011. The study finds that whole eggs may be particularly harmful and that egg whites or egg substitutes may noticeably reduce mortality rates, as those who consumed only egg whites the death rates from cancer declined by 8%, death from cardiovascular disease declined by 3% and death from respiratory disease declined by 20%. Substituting the equivalent amount of nuts or legumes for half an egg was found to reduce the death rates by up to one-third, and poultry, fish or dairy products had a similar effect.
Research has revealed a connection between plant-based diets and a decreased risk for heart disease, and a vegan diet is suggested to be more effective at preventing heart disease than following the American Heart Association recommended diet that includes a small amount of fish, lean meats, and eggs.
After accounting for other dietary factors such as gender, age, and education the team reports that the findings remained the same, and they also reported that it did not matter if the participants consumed baked, poached, boiled, or fried eggs.
The authors concluded that “Our results should be considered by clinicians and policy makers in updating dietary guidelines for Americans.”
“The U.S. dietary guidelines may recommend replacing whole eggs with egg whites/substitutes or alternative protein sources for facilitating cardiovascular health and long-term survival.”
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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