Updated: Apr 20, 2019
In 1961, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended limiting dietary cholesterol based on research at the time which suggested high dietary cholesterol intake was linked to high levels of blood cholesterol levels. The biggest loser in this recommendation was the egg. With the AHA’s recommendation of consuming less than 200 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day, egg yolks were out of the picture, with a single egg yolk providing the daily allotment.
A 2016 review from The International Journal of Applied and Basic Nutritional Sciences looked at connections between whole egg consumption and heart health. It was determined that some of the study subjects were considered “hyper-responders,” experiencing an increase in both LDL (“bad”) and HDL (“good”) cholesterol after consuming the dietary cholesterol in eggs. However, 75% of the population are “normal” or “hypo” responders, experiencing moderate to no difference in serum cholesterol.
In the 50+ years since that recommendation, a clear causal connection between egg consumption and increased cardiovascular disease has not been established by meta-analyses of dose-response prospective cohort studies and other prospective studies. While some observational research suggests an association between egg consumption and increased fasting glucose/type 2 diabetes, randomized trials have not shown egg consumption to impact glucose metabolism. More research in this area is needed.
Eggs contain xanthophyll carotenoids, which have been shown to protect against inflammation, oxidation, and atherosclerosis. They protein in eggs is most biologically available source found in whole food, and eggs contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals. One large whole egg contains:
5% of the RDI for vitamin A
14% of the RDI for riboflavin
11% of the RDI for vitamin B12
6% of the RDI for folate
5% of the RDI for iron
23% of the RDI for selenium
Go ahead and enjoy those eggs!
Citation: Clayton Z.S., Fusco E., & Kern M. (2017). Egg consumption and heart health: A review. Nutrition,37, 79-85. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2016.12.014