Eggs May Be OK for the Heart

Coronary heart disease and stroke were not associated with consumption of eggs

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) When it comes to eggs and heart health, the message has been scrambled. While some researchers believe eggs can be bad for the heart, others find no link between heart disease and eating eggs.

Scientists have long argued that eating too many eggs may contribute to cardiovascular disease.

A new study found that eating up to one egg per day was not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.

"Eat fruits and vegetables to lower cholesterol."

Ying Rong, a doctoral student in the Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, at Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, conducted the study in collaboration with researchers from the departments of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Investigators examined eight scientific articles regarding egg consumption and heart disease from PubMed and Embase. In their meta-analysis, authors reviewed data on 263,938 patients with coronary heart disease and 210,404 who had a stroke. Egg consumption was measured by food frequency questionnaires in all studies.

The researchers evaluated the relative risk of heart disease and stroke for patients who ate one egg a day compared to those who ate less than one egg a day and found no difference in risk.

The authors did note a link between higher egg consumption and heart disease among diabetics. People with higher egg consumption, however, had a 25 percent lower risk of developing hemorrhagic stroke (caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain).

Other scientific reports have sounded the heart-health alarm when it comes to eating eggs. Research from the Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre at Western University in Canada published in August 2012 found that eating egg yolks is worse than cigarette smoking when it comes to promoting arterial plaque buildup (atherosclerosis).

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that eating an egg a day can fit within heart-healthy guidelines for people with normal LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. LDL has been shown to cause plaque buildup. The AHA recommends limiting cholesterol from other sources—such as meats, poultry and dairy products—if eating a lot of eggs.

One egg has about 185 milligrams of dietary cholesterol, and the daily recommended cholesterol limit is less than 300 milligrams, according to the AHA.

The AHA recommends that if you’re going to eat an egg every morning, you cut cholesterol intake by substituting vegetables for some of the meat, or drink your coffee without half-and-half, for example.

Sarah Samaan, MD, cardiologist and physician partner at the Baylor Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, told dailyRx News, “I generally advise my non-diabetic patients that if they enjoy eating eggs, they should limit their consumption of other cholesterol-rich foods those days. It also helps to estimate cholesterol intake on a week-by-week basis, since that allows more flexibility.”

"More importantly, limit saturated fats (from red meat and tropical oils) and avoid trans fats (typically found in shortening, hard margarine and snack foods), since the body is very adept at turning these foods into cholesterol,” added Dr. Samaan, who is author of Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to Stop Heart Disease Before or After it Starts. “Adding more fruits and vegetables will also help to limit the harmful effects of cholesterol.”

This study was published in the January issue of BMJ (originally called the British Medical Journal).

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 9, 2013
Last Updated:
August 19, 2013