A recent study is making headlines because it has proclaimed that we should stop eating eggs because it increases our risk for heart disease. Were eggs wrongly accused?
It appears so.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, when I hear about one study radically changing our scientific views based on a body of current research, I take a deeper dive. Nutritionists like me are trained to evaluate the scientific evidence and discern what is accurate or, perhaps, not so accurate.
The media’s goal is to draw you in with click-bait headlines to find the most shocking news possible. I’d like to bring some perspective to this recent hasty conclusion that is, at best, misleading and, at worst, bad for your health.
Eggs are a high-quality protein that not only contain all of the essential amino acids, they deliver choline for brain health, lutein and zeaxanthin for eye health, and Vitamin D for bone, muscle and autoimmune support.
They contain 185 milligrams of cholesterol and 1.6 grams of saturated fat — now recognized, instead of cholesterol, to be the most important dietary factor to increase risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern for healthy people: Our levels are regulated by our liver, not our dietary intake. However, as with everything, if high cholesterol runs in your family, if you’ve been diagnosed with heart disease or other risk factors for heart disease, this may affect how much cholesterol you should eat.
That’s where you would need to see a registered dietitian nutritionist to get the best advice for you. Individuals do process cholesterol differently, but most healthy people can enjoy their eggs — every day if they’d like. The American Heart Association approves one egg per day or seven per week, which is a reasonable amount.
The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association was a meta-analysis (known to be one of the least accurate ways to evaluate study results) that only looked at egg consumption among many different studies. They lumped them all together and took only one set of dietary records from people.
This is a significant flaw in study design — taking only one look at egg consumption and only at the start. We cannot say that based on these results that if you eat eggs, you’ll raise your risk of heart disease. Why? Because it is not a causal relationship.
The researchers also didn’t control for lifestyle factors like smoking, exercise and other dietary factors (like a diet high in saturated fat from eating fatty meats and full-fat dairy products) that most certainly could have affected the results.
Poor methodology does not give accurate results, so there’s no good reason here to stop eating and enjoying your eggs. I plan to keep eating mine as part of a balanced diet to get all the nutrition they provide for good health. Cheers to chickens!
Disclaimer: This is for information only and not intended as personal medical advice.