You’ve probably had an on-again, off-again relationship with eggs. One minute their cholesterol causes heart disease and the next you better eat the whole egg, otherwise you’re missing out.
Well, a new study has (hopefully) settled the debate: Eating up to one egg per day is actually associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
Published in the journal Heart, the study looked at more than a half million adults in China. Participants reported on their egg eating habits and the scientists followed-up after nine years on average, comparing egg consumption with disease and death registries.
Specifically, daily egg eaters enjoyed an 11 percent lower risk of heart disease compared to people who didn’t eat any eggs at all. For hemorrhagic stroke (a brain bleed), their risk was up to 26 percent lower. The study concluded that eating up to one egg per day was “significantly associated” with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The news that eggs may be okay for you after all is a major switch up on the advice that sprang up in the 1970s, which advised limiting eggs to two to four per week. The idea was that the cholesterol in eggs would ratchet up cholesterol levels in blood, thereby upping the odds of developing heart disease. It’s why people have been conditioned to believe that they should eat egg whites only (bleck).
Why the change? As the researchers point out, science shows that though the cholesterol in eggs may raise “unhealthy” LDL cholesterol, it also raises levels of heart-protective HDL cholesterol, and improves their ability to sweep bad cholesterol out of the body. What’s more, their protein helps reduce blood sugar and helps people eat less, making them a great way to control your weight.
The study adds to existing evidence that you can go forth and order a whole egg omelet. In 2017, a study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the body of research from the past decade and found that eggs essentially get a bum rap: they don’t make it more likely you’ll develop heart disease or type 2 diabetes. As early as 1999, a study on more than 100,000 healthy men and women in JAMA found that eating one egg per day was just fine.
The one caveat: This was an association study, which means it can’t prove cause and effect. It also relied on food frequency questionnaires. Basically, the participants had to remember how many eggs they normally eat. You can see the potential problems with this, right? (Can you even remember what you had for lunch on Tuesday last week?) Still, the study was very large, so it has some good cred.
When you’re planning what to eat, keep in mind that one large egg contains around 70 calories, six grams of protein, and five grams of fat, according to the USDA. Now get crackin’. (Sorry, can’t resist a bad egg joke.)
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