Eggs are bad again? New study raises cholesterol questions

Bad news for brunch fans researchers issue new warning about eggs	 	 	 			Eggs Benedict on a round plate close up side view

The study can not prove cause and effect and is unlikely to be the last word on the matter, but experts said moderation was probably the safest course, advising no more than three or four eggs a week. Participants were followed for an average of 17.5 years.

But the Northwestern researchers said their study suggests those guidelines may have to be looked at yet again.

Egg yolks are the richest source of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed food - with one large egg providing 186 milligrams of cholesterol in its yolk, according to the study.

"The fact that studies outside the US appear to show favorable relationships with egg intake and cardiovascular risk may speak to the importance of what other foods are consumed with eggs as part of the overall diet pattern, as recent research has demonstrated the importance of separating eggs from other foods to understand their independent impact on health outcomes", Rubin said in a statement.

The researchers followed almost 30,000 adults over three decades and found that eating three or four eggs a week was tied to a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease and an 8 percent risk of dying from any cause.

"A more appropriate recommendation would be eating egg whites instead of whole eggs or eating whole eggs in moderation, for the goal of reducing risk of cardiovascular disease and death", he said.

"We want to remind people there is cholesterol in eggs, specifically yolks, and this has a harmful effect", said Allen, who mentioned that she still cooks scrambled eggs for her children.

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After analyzing 30,000 Americans from six separate studies, researchers concluded that eating an extra half-egg a day increased the risk of cardiovascular disease (six per cent) and premature death (eight per cent) over the study period.

Compared with previous studies, "this report is far more comprehensive, with enough data to make a strong statement that eggs and overall dietary cholesterol intake remain important in affecting the risk" of heart disease and death, Dr. Robert H. Eckel writes in an editorial published along with the study. "Good" cholesterol made by the body helps with digesting food and making hormones.

"It's sad news to everyone", says study author Norrina Allen, PhD, a cardiovascular epidemiologist at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago.

Dr. Bruce Lee of Johns Hopkins University, said nutrition studies are often weak because they rely on people remembering what they ate. "But in general, any dietary study is fraught with difficulty because of the problem of patient recall. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease". However, that study was done on people who weren't eating a typical Western diet.

The authors even suggest that the most recent version of the federal dietary guidelines, in which eating eggs is still recommended, may need to be re-evaluated in light of their study's findings. "For example, poached eggs on whole-grain toast is a much healthier meal than a traditional fry up".

Do you eat many eggs?

"I'm sorry if it seems like a boring recommendation", she added, but for most people, the most important diet advice "should be to maintain a healthy weight, to exercise, and to get an adequate amount of sleep".

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