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Sunday, March 27, 2016

How many eggs can I eat?

Eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years.  Almost everyone knows eggs have cholesterol and for years health professionals have given warnings that eating eggs are bad for your heart.  Is this true?  Does eating eggs raise your cholesterol and raise your risk of heart disease?  For those of us who love eggs, it was hard to limit our egg consumption.  What are the facts?

  • Does eating eggs raise my risk of heart disease?  
      For most people, eggs are not the culprit they used to be.   Most of us can enjoy up to 6 eggs a week or 2 eggs every other day and not raise our risk of heart disease.  However, some people have a sensitivity to dietary cholesterol and they should heed the recommendations of their health professional.  
     The latest Dietary Guidelines note that dietary cholesterol such as the cholesterol in eggs are not the primary drivers of blood cholesterol.  Rather, the saturated fat in foods is more likely to raise our blood cholesterol.  The Dietary Guidelines state, “Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats and reduce sodium intake.” 

A Swedish study of 37,766 men and 32,805 women looked at egg consumption and heart disease including heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.  This study found no link between egg consumption and risk of heart attack or stroke.  Men who ate 6 ore more than 6 eggs a week did have a 30% higher risk of heart failure.  But study authors noted this could be from eating bacon with the eggs and not the eggs.   
  •  Should diabetics avoid eggs?
It was thought that diabetics are more sensitive to eggs with eggs more likely to raise their blood cholesterol.  But the latest research indicates diabetics were no different in their reaction to egg consumption.  WebMD  notes that people with type 2 diabetes can also enjoy up to 2 eggs a day.   The findings suggest that eating two eggs per day, 6 days a week can be a safe part of a healthy diet for people with type 2 [diabetes]. 
  • How many eggs can I eat a week?
From this study and other studies, eating up to 6 eggs a week seems unlikely to cause heart disease.  One has always been able to enjoy egg whites like an egg white omelet as only the egg yolk has cholesterol.  Rather than focus on eggs, it seems more likely the food eaten with eggs such as bacon, sausage patties, sausage links are more likely to raise one’s risk of heart disease as these processed meats have the saturated fat in them.

As the Harvard School of Public Health notes in Eggs and Heart Disease,  Recent research has shown that moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals.. and can be part of a healthy diet.
  • Are eggs nutritious?
Yes.  As Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian noted in Cholesterol in Eggs May Not Hurt Heart Health, “Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition.”  The yolk of an egg provides Vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate and iron, choline, and healthy fats.   The egg white is an excellent source of protein and many B vitamins. 

So enjoy some eggs this week.  

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