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Bad news for egg lovers



Pick up the cheese omelet. There is sobering news for egg-lovers who have happily devoured their favorite breakfast for Americans since the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines and are no longer limited to how much cholesterol in their diet or how many eggs they can eat.

A large, new study from Northwestern Medicine reports that adults who ate more eggs and cholesterol in their diet had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death for some reason.

Related Audio: Listen to the Northwestern Medicine Breakthroughs podcast

"The takeaway message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be in eggs and especially in egg yolk," she said related study author Norrina Allen, adjunct professor of preventive medicine at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. "As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume less cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease. "

Egg yolk is one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed foods. A large egg contains 1

86 milligrams of cholesterol in the diet.

Other animal products, such as red meats, processed meats and high-fat dairy products (butter or whipped cream) also have high cholesterol levels, said lead author Wenze Zhong. Postdoctoral Fellow for Preventive Medicine in the Northwest.

Disease debate

Whether cholesterol or eggs in food are associated with cardiovascular disease and death has been debated for decades. By 2015, eating less than 300 milligrams of cholesterol in food was the guideline. However, in the latest dietary guidelines, a daily limit on dietary cholesterol has been left out. The guidelines also include weekly egg consumption as part of a healthy diet.

An adult in the US receives an average of 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day and eats about three to four eggs a week.

The findings of the study suggest that the current recommendations of the US dietary guidelines for cholesterol and eggs in the diet may need to be re-evaluated, the authors said.

Evidence for eggs was mixed. Previous studies have found that eating eggs does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, these studies generally have a less diverse sample, shorter follow-up time, and limited adaptability to other parts of the diet, Allen said.

"Our study showed that if two people had exactly the same diet and the only difference in diet was the eggs, then one could directly measure the effect of the egg on heart disease," Allen said. "We found that, regardless of the source, cholesterol is associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

Exercise, overall quality of diet as well as amount and type of fats in the diet did not alter the relationship between dietary cholesterol and cardiovascular disease and the risk of death.

The new study analyzed pooled data from 29,615 US racially and ethnically diverse adults from six prospective cohort studies for up to 31 years of follow-up.

It was found:

  • There was 300 mg of cholesterol in the diet per day consumed with 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 percent higher risk of death. Cholesterol was the driving factor independent of saturated fat and other dietary fats.
  • Eating three to four eggs per week has a 6% greater risk of cardiovascular disease and an 8% higher risk of any cause of death.

Should I stop eating eggs?

Based on the study, people should reduce dietary cholesterol intake by reducing high-cholesterol foods such as eggs and red meat in their diet.

But do not completely banish eggs and other high-cholesterol foods from your meals. Zhong said, because eggs and red meat are good sources of essential nutrients like essential amino acids, iron and choline. Instead choose egg whites instead of whole eggs or eat whole eggs in moderation.

"We want to remind people that the eggs contain cholesterol, especially egg yolk, and this has a negative impact," said Allen, who scrambled eggs to cook their children that morning. "Eat in moderation."

Estimation of dietary intake

The dietary data was collected using questionnaires on the frequency of food or dietary history. Each participant was asked for a long list of what he had eaten in the last year or month. The data was collected during a single visit. The study had a follow-up period of up to 31 years (median: 17.5 years), in which 5,400 cardiovascular events and 6,132 deaths of all causes were diagnosed.

A major limitation of the study is The long-term eating habits of the participants were not evaluated.

"We have a snapshot of what their eating habits looked like," Allen said. "But we believe that they represent an estimate of a person's food intake. Even so, people have changed their diet and we can not explain that.

Authors of the Northwest include: Linda Van Horn, Marilyn Cornelis, dr. John Wilkins, dr. Hongyan Ning, Mercedes Carnethon and Dr. Philip Greenland, Lihui Zhao and dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones.


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