Sept. 15, 2020

New Global Study – Higher Egg Intake Not Associated with Blood Lipids

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

It’s no secret that I love eggs – and there are many reasons why. They are a source of high-quality protein, affordable, and their production has low environmental impact compared with other animal-based proteins. Plus – they are so versatile and delicious.

If you love eggs and have eaten them all your life, you probably remember the rollercoaster of nutritional information from the late 1980s and early 1990s about eggs and cholesterol. Maybe you even stopped eating eggs for a while, or turned to egg white omelettes after you heard the news (albeit incorrect) that eating egg yolks was linked to an increased risk of heart disease and high cholesterol.

In the years since that uproar, science has told a different story – one that supports eggs as a nutritious part of an overall diet. Many studies have shown that dietary cholesterol in eggs has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. I always watch for new studies about eggs and heart health to ensure that my knowledge is up to date.

Recently, an important study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition , which looked at how eggs impact heart health and cholesterol levels. It was a huge study, covering 177,000 people in 50 countries, and brought together researchers from across the globe to compile their results. The lead author, Mahshid Dehghan, works with the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, so this ground-breaking research even has a local connection.

Here’s what you need to know:

What was studied? The aim of the study was for researchers to look at the association between egg consumption, blood cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and mortality in people from all different cultures, enthnicities and income levels. The study was carried out globally, so people from low, middle and high-income countries could be included. Most studies have been carried out in North America, Europe, China, and Japan, and there was little information on the impact of eggs on people from South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America. This study captures a more robust population.

The researchers collected information about the eating habits of the people being studied. The participants were asked about how frequently they eat eggs, as well as a list of other staple foods that are common around the world (vegetables, fruit, meat, rice, etc.). Then, researchers analyzed the data to see how egg intake compared to mortality levels, major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack or stroke) and cholesterol levels.

What was found? The researchers found that a higher intake of eggs (7 eggs per week compared with 1 egg per week) was not significantly associated with blood cholesterol levels, total mortality or major CVD events. In the published study, they concluded the following:

In 3 large international prospective studies including 177,000 individuals, 12,701 deaths, and 13,658 CVD events from 50 countries in 6 continents, we did not find significant associations between egg intake and blood lipids, mortality, or major CVD events.

Further, they said that moderate egg intake of one egg per day does not increase the risk of CVD or mortality among those with or without a history of CVD or diabetes, and that no significant association was found between egg intake and blood cholesterol levels. Based on the study parameters, the researchers also said that their study covered a broad range of dietary quality, socioeconomic status, and lifestyle behaviors, so their findings are applicable globally.

So, if you love eggs, you can continue to enjoy them – even daily! And that is something to crow about!

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms