Researchers at Northwestern University analyzed 30,000 US adults over three decades and found that eating just three to four eggs per week was tied to increased cholesterol and a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease. The new study offers only observational data but doesn't show that eggs and cholesterol caused heart disease and deaths, said Lee, who wasn't involved in the research.
The researchers said their study looked at almost 30,000 racially and ethnically diverse United States adults from six separate studies with as much as 31 years of followup.
An analysis found that consuming 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day was associated with 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 18 percent higher risk of death.
This news might be hard to swallow for some egg lovers, considering the fact that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans actually encourages the consumption of eggs as part of a healthy eating pattern.
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.
"Our study showed if two people had exact same diet and the only difference in diet was eggs, then you could directly measure the effect of the egg consumption on heart disease", Allen said.
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"The more cholesterol you consume, the higher your risk of heart disease and dying", said study senior author Norrina Allen, an associate professor of preventive medicine from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
The researchers suggsted that people don't have to ban eggs and other cholesterol-rich foods from their diets because they do contain important nutrients. "Bad" cholesterol-often found in animal products such as eggs, meat, and dairy products-has been linked to coronary heart disease, stroke and heart failure. Participants were followed for roughly 17 years, on average.
"There's always been a [suggestion in the data] that eggs can raise cholesterol and create cardiovascular harm", said Dr. Andrew Freeman, director of the Cardiovascular Prevention and Wellness program at National Jewish Health hospital in Denver. During the time period of the follow-up, the researcher said that there were 5,400 incident CVD events (2,088 fatal and non-fatal heart disease events and 1,302 fatal and non-fatal stroke events) and 6,132 all-cause deaths. "Our findings contribute scientific evidence to the dietary guidelines with regard to egg consumption for the healthy Chinese adult".
It's important to note that no one, including the study authors, is saying you need to cut eggs completely out of your diet.
The researchers based their conclusions on what participants said they ate at the start of each study. Nutrition experts say the new study is unlikely to change that advice. Of course, cheeseburgers have many other dietary problems, including saturated fat and sodium. As Americans have embraced low-carb diets, many have turned to eggs as a reliable protein source. WW (formerly Weight Watchers) tells its members to eat eggs with abandon, counting them as a free food in its diet plan. "For example, poached eggs on whole-grain toast is a much healthier meal than a traditional fry up".