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Are eggs good for the heart? The jury is still out

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Dr Veena Aggarwal, Consultant Womens’ Health, CMD and Editor-in-Chief, IJCP Group & Medtalks Trustee, Dr KK’s Heart Care Foundation of India    10 February 2023

Eggs were earlier considered a strict no-no for heart patients because of their cholesterol content in the egg yolk. Although a much debated subject, over the years, evidence has shown that eating eggs in moderation  does not increase the risk of heart disease. For those who eat eggs, the American Heart Association (AHA) at present suggests one egg (or two egg whites) per day, as part of a healthy diet.1

 

A new research, published in the journal Nutrients, has shown that eating ≥5 eggs in a week improved blood glucose and blood pressure and reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes suggesting that eating eggs may be heart-friendly.

 

The study analysed data of 2349 healthy adults in the prospective Framingham Offspring Study with ages ranging between 30 and 64 years. None of the participants had a heart disease at study entry. Their BMI was >18.5 kg/m2. Three-day dietary records were used to evaluate the diet of the selected participants. The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of weekly intake of ≥5 eggs on fasting blood glucose and blood pressure alone and in combination with other eating patterns.

 

After a follow-up period of 4 years, eating five or more eggs in a week had a significant association with lower mean fasting glucose (p = 0.0004) and systolic BP (p = 0.0284). This beneficial effect was more evident among the overweight participants. Higher consumption was associated with reduced risk of impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or type 2 diabetes with hazard ratio of 0.72 particularly among those who had normal fasting glucose at baseline. The association was more robust when egg intake was examined together with other components of a healthy diet.

 

This study has demonstrated that eating ≥5 eggs does not adversely affect either blood glucose or blood pressure. It may actually reduce the risk of future diabetes and high blood pressure. The study did not include persons who ate >35 eggs per week, consumed >3500-4000 kcals per day, 20% of which was sourced from alcohol. The mantra for a healthy diet therefore is “eat a variety of foods and eat in moderation”. However, it is important to note that the study did not examine other cardiovascular risk factors except for blood glucose and blood pressure.

So, assess your cardiometabolic risk factors because though eggs are rich source of proteins and other nutrients like vitamins (A, B and D), antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin (beneficial for the eyes) and choline (good for brain and nervous system), they also contain cholesterol (186 mg). A large egg contains 1.5 g of saturated fats.3

References

 

  1. https://www.heart.org/en/news/2018/08/15/are-eggs-good-for-you-or-not. Aug. 16, 2018. Accessed on Feb. 9, 2023.
  2. Melanie M. Mott, et al. Egg intake is associated with lower risks of impaired fasting glucose and high blood pressure in Framingham Offspring Study Adults. Nutrients.2023, 15, 507. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15030507.
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/are-eggs-risky-for-heart-health. Dec. 14, 2021. Accessed on Feb. 9, 2023.

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