Although in the late 20th century it was maintained that eating more than two eggs a week could increase cholesterol, in recent years experts have begun to refute this myth. Now, a new study has found that eating more eggs is not associated with higher serum cholesterol in adolescents, regardless of how much physical activity they do.
A new study led by researchers at the University of Granada has analysed the link between egg intake in adolescents and the main risk factors for developing cardiovascular diseases, such as lipid profile, excess body fat, insulin resistance and high blood pressure.
As Alberto Soriano Maldonado, primary author of the study, explains to SINC: "Health professionals traditionally insisted that eating eggs increased cholesterol levels, so in recent decades there has been a tendency to restrict intake championed by various public health organisations."
However, the most recent research suggests that increased serum cholesterol is more affected by intake of saturated fats and trans fats - present in red meat, industrial baked goods, etc. - than by the amount of cholesterol in the diet.
The results of this article, part of the European study HELENA involving nine countries, demonstrated that eating larger amounts of egg is neither linked to higher serum cholesterol nor to worse cardiovascular health in adolescents, regardless of their levels of physical activity.
"The conclusions, published in the journal Nutrición Hospitalaria, confirm recent studies in healthy adults that suggest that an intake of up to seven eggs a week is not associated with an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases," notes Soriano.
As a result, the authors suggest reviewing dietary recommendations for adolescents, although they add that it would be useful to conduct similar research on a sample group with higher egg intake.
"Egg is a cheap food that is rich in very high-quality proteins, minerals, folates and B vitamins. Thus it can provide a large quantity of nutrients necessary for optimum development in adolescents," according to the researcher.
Banishing the egg myth
In 1973, the American Heart Association recommended limiting egg intake to a maximum of three per week, an idea that was accepted by health experts for years.
However, although the majority of foods rich in cholesterol are usually also rich in saturated fats, a medium-size egg contains 200 milligrams of cholesterol but has more unsaturated fats than saturated fats and only has 70 calories.
More information: DOI:10.3305/nh.2013.28.3.6392