Every month there seems to be a new story about whether you should eat more eggs or swear off of them for good. So are they good for your heart or not?
It may seem like a simple question: Are eggs good or bad for your heart? But answering this question may be even more confusing than solving the age-old riddle: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The news reports seemingly change every year. But the final (for now) verdict is in.
First, what we know for sure: Eggs have a lot of cholesterol — 186 milligrams of it — all of which is in the yolk. If you have high cholesterol, the recommendation is that you monitor how much dietary cholesterol you eat, though the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion no longer recommends a certain number as a goal. (Until 2015, it had been no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day for healthy people and 200 milligrams per day for those with high cholesterol.)
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But then in 2013, an analysis of previous research published in the British Medical Journal found that eating one egg per day is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. And a subsequent analysis of previous research and published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition found that those who eat one egg a day may in fact have a 14 percent lower risk of stroke.
More recently, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that eating eggs may actually benefit your cholesterol profile. The study of 38 healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 found that the more eggs they ate, the more the size of their low-density lipoproteins (LDL/bad) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL/good) changed for the better. (It’s complicated, but the larger your LDL and HDL are, the better.) While this study is promising, it’s worth noting that it was done in young, healthy individuals who are at low risk for heart disease.
In addition, a Finnish study, reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating one egg a day may improve your long-term cognitive function. Eggs also have a plethora of other benefits, including that they contain iron, vitamins and minerals and are low in saturated fats, which, as it turns out, may really be the risk when it comes to cholesterol.
“Eggs are a good source of protein (both whites/yolk), contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats and also great source of important nutrients, such as vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin D,” said Kurt Hong, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC and a primary care physician at Keck Medicine of USC.
Still, before you go and order yourself a four-egg omelet, it’s best to ask your doctor for his/her opinion on the matter. And have your cholesterol checked regularly, no matter how many eggs you do — or don’t — eat a day.
“As with any food, the key here is consumption in moderation,” Dr. Hong said.
If you are local to Southern California and are in search of a primary care physician, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit www.keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.