Eggs are common in people’s daily diet.
However, whether they are healthy or not has been unclear.
It’s true that just one egg yolk has 200 mg of cholesterol. This makes it one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol.
But it’s also crucial to distinguish between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood, which are only weakly related.
In addition, eggs contain additional nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease.
Moreover, the moderate amount of fat in an egg, about 5 grams, is mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat.
The focus on dietary cholesterol alone was de-emphasized in recent research. This is because more attention was placed on the influence of saturated and trans fat on blood cholesterol.
Accordingly, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 removed the prior recommendation to limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
Experts suggest that it’s important to look at eggs not only on their own, but in context of the entire diet, especially when compared to foods they may replace (and vice-versa).
Recent research on moderate egg consumption in two large prospective cohort studies (nearly 40,000 men and over 80,000 women) found that up to one egg per day is not linked to increased heart disease risk in healthy people.
Eggs were previously associated with heart disease risk as a result of their high cholesterol content.
However, a solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet.
It is find if you eat poached egg with runny yolk on mashed avocado and whole grain bread, with a side salad of arugula and mango red pepper salsa.
Of course, this research doesn’t give a green light to daily three-egg omelets.
A 2008 report from the Physicians’ Health Study supports the idea that eating an egg a day is generally safe for the heart.
But it also suggests that going much beyond that could increase the risk for heart failure later in life.
You also need to pay attention to the “trimmings” that come with your eggs.
For example, scrambled eggs, salsa, and a 100% whole-wheat English muffin is very different from scrambled eggs with cheese, sausages, home fries, and white toast.
People who have difficulty controlling their total and LDL cholesterol may also want to be cautious about eating egg yolks and instead choose foods made with egg whites.
The same is true for people with diabetes.
In a recent study, heart disease risk was increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day.
For people who have diabetes and heart disease, it may be best to limit egg consumption to no more than three yolks per week.
Furthermore, to truly assess eggs and heart health, you can check how they stack-up to foods you might choose in their place—the classic nutrition substitution analysis.
While eggs may be a much better choice than sugary, refined grain-based options like sweetened breakfast cereals, pancakes with syrup, muffins, or bagels, they may fall short of other options.
A bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and berries, for example, will be a much better choice for heart health than an egg-centric breakfast.
Eating whole grains and fruit predict lower risk of heart disease, and when it comes to protein, plant sources like nuts and seeds are related to lower cardiovascular and overall mortality, especially when compared to red meat or eggs.
The bottom line: while eggs may not be the optimal breakfast choice, they are certainly not the worst, falling somewhere in the middle on the spectrum food choice and heart disease risk.
For those looking to eat a healthy diet, keeping intake of eggs moderate to low will be best for most, emphasizing plant-based protein options when possible.
Source: Harvard University.