Moderate egg consumption (up to 1 egg per day) is not associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, a new 30-year study published by The BMJ has found.
A team of researchers in the US measured the diets of over 215,000 healthy men and women who averaged one to five eggs a week for 32 years starting from 1980. They found no association between egg intake and risk of CVD, which can lead to heart attack or stroke.
The study did find that people who ate more than one egg a day had a higher CVD risk, but they also tended to eat more red meat and had a higher body mass index.
Results from an updated meta-analysis of 28 observational studies further support the overall lack of an association between egg intake and CVD risk, but evidence varied between studies conducted in the US, Europe and Asia, the study found.
There was no overall association between egg intake and CVD risk among US and European studies, but moderate egg consumption was associated with a slightly lower CVD risk in Asian populations.
This could be explained by the fact that in Asian cultures, eggs are typically included in a variety of different dishes, while in Western populations, eggs tend to be eaten with red and processed meats and refined grains.
As an observational study, it can’t establish cause. The authors also pointed to some limitations, including that the three cohorts were made up of health professionals, therefore the findings may not be reflective of the general population. What’s more, people with higher egg intake were generally less healthy.
The authors highlighted that the high rates of follow up and large sample size are key strengths, but said that their results need to be interpreted in the context that the average egg consumption was relatively low.
In a linked editorial, Professor Andrew Odegaard at the University of California, Irvine said that the results of the study were convincing, but added “we should not put all our eggs in this observational basket for formal guidance on eating eggs.
“If frequent egg consumption is occurring in the context of an overall dietary pattern known to be cardioprotective, or eggs are being consumed for essential nutritional needs, then it is probably nothing to worry about,” he said.
He concluded: “Single foods could have contextual relevance for health, but a complex and extensive body of nutrition and dietary research really does support the current focus on overall dietary patterns in recommendations and guidelines.”
Eggs consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: findings from three large prospective US cohort studies and a systematic review and updated meta-analysis