Study: Cholesterol in eggs tied to cardiac disease, death

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The risk of heart disease and death increases with the number of eggs an individual consumes, according to a UMass Lowell nutrition expert who has studied the issue.

Research that tracked the diets, health and lifestyle habits of nearly 30,000 adults across the country for as long as 31 years has found that cholesterol in , when consumed in large quantities, is associated with ill health effects, according to Katherine Tucker, a biomedical and nutritional sciences professor in UMass Lowell's Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, who co-authored the analysis. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study results come as egg consumption in the country continues to rise. In 2017, people ate an average of 279 eggs per year, compared with 254 eggs in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Current U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans do not offer advice on the number of eggs individuals should eat each day. The guidelines, which are updated every five years, do not include this because nutrition experts had begun to believe saturated fats were the driving factor behind , rather than eggs, according to Tucker. However, prior to 2015, the guidelines did recommend individuals consume no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day, she said.

One large egg contains nearly 200 milligrams of cholesterol, roughly the same amount as an 8-ounce steak, according to the USDA. Other foods that contain high levels of cholesterol include processed meats, cheese and high-fat dairy products.

While the new research does not offer specific recommendations on egg or cholesterol consumption, it found that each additional 300 milligrams of cholesterol consumed beyond a baseline of 300 milligrams per day was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent higher risk of death.

Eating several eggs a week "is reasonable," said Tucker, who noted they include nutrients beneficial to eye and bone health. "But I recommend people avoid eating three-egg omelets every day. Nutrition is all about moderation and balance."

Research results also determined that ' exercise regimen and overall diet quality, including the amount and type of fat they consumed, did not change the link between cholesterol in one's diet and risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

"This is a strong study because the modeling adjusted for factors such as the quality of the ," Tucker said. "Even for people on healthy diets, the harmful effect of higher intake of eggs and was consistent."

Explore further

Higher egg and cholesterol consumption hikes heart disease and death risk: study

More information: Victor W. Zhong et al, Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption With Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality, JAMA (2019). DOI: 10.1001/jama.2019.1572
Citation: Study: Cholesterol in eggs tied to cardiac disease, death (2019, June 4) retrieved 19 October 2019 from
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Jun 04, 2019
Decades ago they told us stop eating eggs full of cholesterol and fat. Then they said, 'Whoops humans dont absorb the cholesterol in eggs and a little fat is good to manage blood sugar spikes.

Now back to square one?

Jun 04, 2019
To answer the question as to why it has been difficult to study this subject, the authors wrote: "residual confounding was a potential reason for inconsistent results. For example, egg consumption was commonly correlated with unhealthy behaviors such as low physical activity, current smoking, and unhealthy dietary patterns. Also, cholesterol-containing foods are usually rich in saturated fat and animal protein."

It is also surprising that of the 29,615 participants studied, about 50% did not consume whole eggs on a regular basis. So the general public may already have been following the proper health guideline prior to this study.

Jun 05, 2019
Decades ago they told us stop eating eggs full of cholesterol and fat. Then they said, 'Whoops humans dont absorb the cholesterol in eggs and a little fat is good to manage blood sugar spikes.

Now back to square one?

There is no "they" here. This is someone making a recommendation based on a study. i would wait for other studies to confirm or debunk this study. Science is a conversation back and forth until a consensus is reached based on the current data. Reports in news stories always make it seem like each report is the new final story and now you must follow this rule. Take these reports with a grain of salt (or not, depending on which story you are reading today)

Jun 05, 2019
There is no "they" here.

The "they" is so-called experts on nutrition, who in turn influence both commercial food producers and government policy and health recommendations.

And it is true that this issue has ping-ponged back and forth between "eat eggs" and "don't eat eggs" for decades now.

The current article argues for moderation, which sounds sensible enough. But many of us don't understand how scientists can keep contradicting each other in the matter of diet. We see the same story with things like alcohol, dietary fats, and coffee. Good, bad, good, bad, doesn't matter, back to bad, then good again, and so on seemingly ad infinitum.

The problem is that all this nonsense non-science gets picked up by media outlets and replayed as "facts".

Jun 05, 2019
Another incompetent group of people who don't have a clue about how to run a study. This is 100% useless and nonsensical information. Whoever paid for this study needs to request a refund.
It is not animal fat or saturated fat that causes health issues. It is oxidized fat/cholesterol which is mostly created by using vegetable oils and other process garbage like margarine. The information is there for all to see if you want to look for it.
I think I will eat another egg now.

Jun 09, 2019
Did they take into account the way the participant cook their eggs? Microwave cooking it without any oil (or ingesting it raw) vs frying it on a pan (which I suspect is the way most people do), probably change the whole thing.

Jun 10, 2019
2 eggs a day

Jun 10, 2019
everyday take 10 to 12 cc of an ayurvedic medicine called arjunarishtra by baidyanath

Jun 10, 2019
I'm laughing because I am assuming this is a late April Fool's joke. I've been eating at least an egg a day for most of my life and I'm still not dead after 72 years. Lets see that comes to 26,280, not including the extra months since my birthday or leap years. Maybe they will kill me before I get to the age of my grandmother in my mother's side that made it to 107 and I will only make it to 106. When was the last time I was sick? 1999, when I decided to stop eating most of what is known as food in the grocery stores, eggs excluded and whole milk and bacon. Hint: will not touch corn syrup with an 80 foot pole, or anything I can't pronounce or that new fact meat that bleeds. Reverse osmosis for all the water I ingest. Fruit cake anyone?

Jun 10, 2019
"This is someone making a recommendation based on a study." Every single recommendation we are given regarding food is "based on a study". Yet, when it comes to "recommendation based on a study" that is what the "expert" giving it says. People say anything the people financing a "study" want to them to find, otherwise they will not get any more money for their next "study". I will continue using common sense. Read my own comment.

Jun 11, 2019

some studies point out that a large egg contains 75 mg cholesterol, but this article says 200mg

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