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New data in eternal debate over eggs, heart health

16 March 2019

WW (formerly Weight Watchers) tells its members to eat eggs with abandon, counting them as a free food in its diet plan.

Eating 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day - the average intake of adults in the United States - is associated with a 17 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease and an 18 percent higher risk of death from any cause, according to the study.

The new study looked at pooled data on 29,615 USA racially and ethnically diverse adults from six prospective cohort studies for up to 31 years of follow up.

Limiting cholesterol may be particularly important for people already at risk for heart disease. The study focused on eggs because they're among the most commonly eaten cholesterol-rich foods.

It's not specifically the eggs, but the cholesterol in eggs that seems to be the problem, according to a new study.

One large egg has 186 milligrams of cholesterol in the yolk. They include the way the eggs were cooked, or changes to peoples' diets that occurred after the study information was gathered.

A potential reason for inconsistent results in the past was the fact that other studies did not take into account that egg consumption may be related to other unhealthy behaviors, such as low physical activity, smoking and an unhealthy diet. However, compared with previously published analyses, the new report "is far more comprehensive, with enough data to make a strong statement that eggs and overall dietary cholesterol intake remain important in affecting the risk of [cardiovascular disease], and more so the risk of all-cause mortality", he wrote.

The researchers followed almost 30,000 adults over three decades and found that eating three or four eggs a week was tied to a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease and an 8 percent risk of dying from any cause.

Earlier versions of the dietary guidelines have advised Americans to keep their cholesterol under 300 milligrams daily. Your favourite breakfast sandwich, all those tasty and fast meals with eggs are now, once again being put at the base of cardiovascular disease?

Prior to 2015, nutrition guidelines recommended eating less than 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day.

Basically, it all boils down to this: Eggs - in moderation - can be part of a healthy diet. Eating 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol a day was associated with a 17 percent higher risk of heart disease and stroke, as well as an 18 percent increased risk of dying. "There is no safe or unsafe amount [to eat] but I do like the saying an egg a day is OK".

"We want to remind people there is cholesterol in eggs, specifically yolks, and this has a harmful effect", said Allen. The data used in the research was collected between March 25, 1985, and August 31, 2016.

The new findings could call for a reevaluation of these recommendations, the authors said. By the end of the follow-up period, the group had experienced 5,400 cardiovascular events and 6,132 deaths from any cause.

The study was published Friday in the journal JAMA. Each participant was asked a long list of what they'd eaten for the previous year or month.

"We have one snapshot of what their eating pattern looked like", Allen said.

Still, the findings don't mean that you have to shun eggs all together. However, that study was done on people who weren't eating a typical Western diet.

New data in eternal debate over eggs, heart health