The following article is in response to a recent study which has appeared in the news.
The Study and Points to Consider
Eggs have made it back into the news, with a new study linking egg consumption to an increased risk of heart disease. It was found that 3-4 eggs per week was linked to a 6% increase in risk of developing heart disease (Zhong et al., 2019).
The study that found this was an observational study which was carried out over 17.5 years. Although this study did adjust for other foods in the diet, it only found an association, which means that you cannot conclude that eggs cause heart disease. The participants’ diet was also only assessed at the start of the study, and not continuously throughout the duration of the study. This means that changes in the diet over the span of the study was not accounted for. Diets and lifestyle don’t always stay the same over the duration of 17.5 years.
With any study, it's important to look at the whole picture
We also have no indication of how the eggs were cooked, or other lifestyle impacts, like smoking. There is a lot of mixed data and information around eggs, one study in 2016 found that a daily egg intake was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease. Another study in 2018, on half a million Chinese adults, found that an egg a day was associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease (Qin et al., 2018). It’s also been found that whole eggs after exercise increases the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, better than just consuming the egg whites (van Villet et al., 2017).
The key message here really is everything in moderation and, as part of a healthy balanced diet, eggs are fine to eat. You do not need to stop eating eggs (unless you have been told to do so by a doctor or dietitian).
Eggs are a great source of nutrients including protein, fats, B vitamins, choline, minerals and trace elements. So continue enjoying them! The same goes for if you don't like eggs, don't force yourself to eat them.
Daisy, MSc PGDip ANutr, is a Registered Associate Nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Public Health Nutrition, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition, both of which are Association for Nutrition (AFN) accredited. She, also, has a BSc degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience; and has completed an AFN accredited Diet Specialist Nutrition course.
Daisy has worked for an NHS funded project, the Diabetes Prevention Programme; and shadowed a nutritionist in Harley Street.
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Qin et al., (2018). Associations of Egg Consumption with Cardiovascular Disease in a Cohort Study of 0.5 Million Chinese Adults. Available here.
van Villet et al., (2017). Consumption of Whole Eggs Promotes Greater Stimulation of Postexercise Muscle Protein Synthesis than Consumption of Isonitrogenous Amounts of Egg Whites in Young Men. Available here.
Zhong et al., (2019). Associations of Dietary Cholesterol or Egg Consumption with Incident Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality. Available here.