Eggs boost risk of heart disease, study suggests

Eating more eggs could boost a person's risk of heart disease, new research suggests.

A study of more than 30,000 adults in the US has linked consuming an additional half an egg per day with a slightly higher chance of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers, from Northwestern University in Illinois, said people need to consume less cholesterol, which is found in eggs as well as other foods such as red and processed meat.

The study, published in journal JAMA, found eating three to four eggs per week was associated with a 6% higher risk of heart and circulatory diseases, and an 8% higher risk of death from any cause during the follow-up period.

Eating 300mg of dietary cholesterol per day was also linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death.

Eggs have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (PA)
Eggs have been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (PA)

"The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks," Dr Norrina Allen, from Northwestern University said.

"As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol.

"People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease."

The link between eggs and cardiovascular disease has been the subject of much scientific debate.

Some previous studies have found egg consumption does not affect cardiovascular disease risk.

Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said more research is needed to understand the link between eggs and heart disease.

"Eating healthily is all about balance. If you're eating too much of one thing it leaves less room in the diet for other foods that may have more health benefit," she said.

"Eggs are a nutritious food and, while this study focuses on the amount we're eating, it's just as important to pay attention to how the eggs are cooked and to the trimmings that come with them.

"For example, poached eggs on whole grain toast is a much healthier meal than a traditional fry-up."

The authors note that a limitation of the study is that the consumption of eggs and cholesterol was monitored at a single point of time.

"We have one snapshot of what their eating pattern looked like, Dr Allen said.

"But we think they represent an estimate of a person's dietary intake.

"Still, people may have changed their diet, and we cannot account for that."

Commenting on the findings, Professor Tom Sanders, from King's College London, said: "The average US intake of cholesterol can be up to around 600mg per day, this is much higher than the average UK diet, which is around 225mg per day.

"Eggs in moderation, around three to four per week, is fine, and that is what current UK dietary guidelines say."

The study looked at 29,615 US adults from six different studies, with an average follow up time of 17.5 years.