Consumption of eggs is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease or stroke, according to the findings of a new meta-analysis from the BMJ.
The clinical review comes after several conflicting studies in recent years suggested evidence that consumption of eggs both is, and is not, a risk factor for the development of heart disease.
Led by Professor Liegang Liu from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China,the new analysis, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) analysed data from eight clinical studies, and almost half a million participants, finding no significant association between egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke.
However, Liu and his team did note that subgroup analysis suggests that there may be an issue for diabetic people – finding that those with diabetes and a high egg consumption had a significantly elevated risk of CHD
“Since eggs are a major source of dietary cholesterol, with one large egg containing almost 210 mg of cholesterol, the public has been recommended to limit egg consumption unless the intake of other foods high in cholesterol is restricted,” said Liu and his team. “However, eggs are also an inexpensive and low calorie source of many other nutrients, including minerals, proteins, and unsaturated fatty acids, which could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
“Results from our meta-analysis do not support that higher egg consumption is associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.”
The research team performed the meta-analysis of eight studies that included 263,938 participants for coronary heart disease (CHD) and 210,404 participants for stroke. All studies followed participants for between eight and 22 years.
Among the participants, the Liu and his team documented 5,847 cases of CHD and 7,579 cases of stroke during the follow-up periods.
Egg consumption was measured by food frequency questionnaires in all studies.
Further analysis of this grouped data identified no significant association between egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.
They said that a higher intake of eggs (classified as up to one egg per day) was not associated with risk of coronary heart disease or stroke.
However, after performing subgroup analysis the team found that those with higher egg intake and diabetes were at a significantly higher risk of developing CHD, while high intake in the general population was associated with a lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke.
Liu said such subgroup analysis results should be interpreted with caution, because only a few studies focused on diabetic participants and particular stroke subtypes.