Higher egg and cholesterol consumption hikes heart disease and early death risk
A large, new North-western Medicine study reports adults who ate more eggs and dietary cholesterol had a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause.
“The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks,” said co-corresponding study author Norrina Allen, associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease.”
Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol among all commonly consumed foods. One large egg has 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol in the yolk.
Other animal products such as red meat, processed meat and high-fat dairy products (butter or whipped cream) also have high cholesterol content, said lead author Wenze Zhong, a postdoctoral fellow in preventive medicine at Northwestern.
Whether eating dietary cholesterol or eggs is linked to cardiovascular disease and death has been debated for decades. Eating less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day was the guideline recommendation before 2015. However, the most recent dietary guidelines omitted a daily limit for dietary cholesterol. The guidelines also include weekly egg consumption as part of a healthy diet.
An adult in the U.S. gets an average of 300 milligrams per day of cholesterol and eats about three or four eggs per week.
The study findings mean the current U.S. dietary guideline recommendations for dietary cholesterol and eggs may need to be re-evaluated, the authors said.
The new study looked at pooled data on 29,615 U.S. racially and ethnically diverse adults from six prospective cohort studies for up to 31 years of follow up.
- Eating 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day was associated with 17 present higher risk of incident cardiovascular disease and 18 present higher risks of all-cause deaths. The cholesterol was the driving factor independent of saturated fat consumption and other dietary fat.
- Eating three to four eggs per week was associated with 6 present higher risk of cardiovascular disease and 8 present higher risk of any cause of death.
Based on the study, people should keep dietary cholesterol intake low by reducing cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs and red meat in their diet.
Science News – from research organizations.