- A study has found that people who ate five or more eggs weekly had improvements in some risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- They had lower blood pressure and blood sugar.
- They also had less risk for high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
- However, dietitians say it’s too soon to conclude that eggs are good for the heart.
- They say moderate consumption is still the best.
Eggs are a rich source of protein as well as nutrients like vitamin D and choline. However, they are also high in artery-clogging cholesterol.
As a result, conventional wisdom says they are only okay to consume in moderation. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends one egg with the yolk or two with just the whites per day as an acceptable part of a heart-healthy diet.
However, the authors of a new study published in the journal Nutrients note that egg consumption remains controversial with studies continuing to present conflicting findings.
Adding to that body of evidence, they found that eating five or more eggs per week was linked with improvements in certain cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors. After four years, study participants had lower average systolic blood pressure and fasting blood sugar.
People who ate more eggs also had a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes or high fasting blood sugar and high blood pressure.
Could it be that eggs are not only okay to eat but are actually good for cardiovascular health?
How eggs may affect aspects of cardiovascular disease risks
To examine the effects of egg consumption, the researchers looked at data from the Framingham Offspring Study. Starting in 1971, over 5,000 adult children of the original Framingham Heart Study cohort began undergoing exams every four years looking for whether they developed CVD or any other health issues.
People between the ages of 30 and 64 were included.
During each exam, the study participants filled out questionnaires and participated in interviews. They also had bloodwork done and measures like blood pressure performed.
The team also asked them to keep three-day dietary records between 1983 and 1995.
Egg consumption was divided into three categories: <0.5 eggs, 0.5–<5 eggs, and ≥5 eggs per week.
After analysis of the data, the study authors concluded that eating five or more eggs weekly had no ill effects on blood sugar or blood pressure. In fact, they found that a moderate intake of eggs might even improve blood sugar and reduce people’s risk of having high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes.
They further noted that people had lower systolic blood pressure and a significantly reduced risk of developing high blood pressure.
“Overall, these results provide no evidence to restrict egg intake to reduce the risk of elevated glucose or HBP in healthy adults,” wrote the researchers. “Rather, moderate amounts of eggs may reduce the risk of impaired fasting glucose, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure when consumed as part of a healthy eating pattern.”
Study findings may be skewed due to conflict of interest
So are eggs actually good for heart health?
Sharon Palmer — registered dietitian, author, and blogger at The Plant-Powered Dietitian — suggested that people should consider the possibility of conflicts of interest in this study.
“It’s important to note that the study was funded by American Egg Board,” she said.
Palmer additionally explained that the study only looked at two aspects of heart disease: blood pressure and diabetes risk.
“I would expect egg consumption to not have negative impacts in this area,” she said. “In my mind, there are more questions when it comes to other aspects of egg consumption on heart disease, such as elevated LDL cholesterol.”
Some factors of cardiovascular disease were not measured in the study
Amber Core, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, agreed with Palmer.
“In general, foods such as eggs would likely not have a negative effect on blood sugar as they do not contain carbohydrates … [F]oods that are very low in carbohydrates do not cause large increases in blood sugar levels.”
Core said she is also concerned that the study did not gauge the impact on cholesterol and triglycerides.
“While this study suggests that eggs may have a positive impact on blood pressure and fasting glucose levels, this is not indicative of protection against the development of heart disease. Heart disease development is more so determined by high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and genetic determinants.”
However, it should be noted that high blood sugar is a risk factor for heart disease, and eating eggs can be part of a diet that aims to help stabilize blood sugar to reduce that risk.
Core added that it’s also not just the cholesterol content of eggs that is a concern. Eggs are high in saturated fat, which can also increase cholesterol.
The bottom line
In summary, while this study is one more piece of the puzzle, it may be premature to conclude that eggs can prevent CVD.
However, you can continue to eat them in limited quantities as per the American Heart Association’s guidelines.
“It seems safe to recommend low to moderate consumption of eggs if you are at high risk of heart disease, based on the current evidence,” Palmer concluded. “We still have more to learn, as studies have been conflicting.”
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