Can eating 1-3 eggs per week keep you heart healthy?
[Feb. 13, 2023: Staff Writer, The Brighter Side of News]
A recent study surveying both men and women has explored the impact of egg consumption on heart health and returned surprising results. (CREDIT: Creative Commons)
A recent study published in the journal Nutrients has explored the impact of egg consumption on heart health. The study surveyed men and women living in the Athens metropolitan area in Greece and asked them to self-report their monthly consumption of eggs, either as a standalone food or as an ingredient in a recipe.
The study's authors found a striking result, which showed that eating one to three eggs per week was associated with a 60% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The risk was even lower, 75%, for those eating four to seven eggs per week.
However, the study's authors only found a protective effect of eating one to three eggs per week after considering several other factors, such as sociodemographic, lifestyle, and clinical factors. They concluded that egg consumption may have a protective role against cardiovascular disease when included in a healthy diet with low consumption of saturated fatty acids.
The findings of this study have sparked a debate about the healthfulness of eggs, particularly with regards to heart health. While eggs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as proteins, minerals, fat-soluble vitamins, iron, and carotenoids, they also contain high levels of saturated fatty acids and cholesterol, which are considered bad for the heart. This has made it difficult to determine whether eggs are good or bad for your heart.
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One of the limitations of the study is its reliance on self-reported data. Dr. Angela Zivkovic, an associate professor and leader of the Zivkovic Lab at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study, pointed out that it's difficult to remember what one ate even just two days ago, much less six months ago. This self-reported nature of the data calls the findings into question and makes it difficult to determine the accuracy of the results.
Additionally, the study did not capture the foods that eggs replaced, such as red meats, bread, or vegetables. Based on participants' saturated fat levels, Dr. Zivkovic suspected they were likely eating less red meat or other saturated fat-rich meats. Without this context, it is difficult to know what the researchers were really seeing.
Despite the limitations of the study, it's clear that health is not based on single foods but on one's entire diet. While eggs can be part of a healthy diet, they may not be the right choice for everyone.
Baseline sociodemographic, clinical, anthropometric, biochemical and lifestyle characteristics of subjects from the ATTICA study according to level of egg consumption (n = 2020). (CREDIT: Nutrients)
“The high cholesterol and choline content of eggs may be a problem for certain individuals who are at risk for heart disease.” said Michelle Routhenstein, cardiology dietitian and preventive cardiology nutritionist at EntirelyNourished. “So, while eggs may be able to be included in a heart healthy diet, the amount should be relatively limited. The whole diet should be evaluated for optimal risk reduction.”
According to Dr. Zivkovic, eggs are a rich source of Vitamin B2, B12, and selenium, which are cardioprotective. Vitamin B2 and B12 can help normalize homocysteine levels that, when elevated, may result in arterial plaques. Eggs' selenium helps to combat oxidative stress, which is a main component of heart disease.
Stratified analyses by saturated fatty acid intake. (CREDIT: Nutrients)
More good news, said Dr. Zivkovic, is that interventional studies find that “eggs do not increase total cholesterol, and can, in fact, improve the cholesterol efflux capacity of HDL [cholesterol] particles.”
The study has shown that egg consumption may have a protective role against cardiovascular disease when included in a healthy diet with low consumption of saturated fatty acids. However, it's important to consider the limitations of the study, including its reliance on self-reported data and the lack of nutritional context. Health is not based on single foods but on one's entire diet, and eggs can be part of a healthy diet but may not be the right choice for everyone.
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