The question of whether or not eggs are healthy has long been controversial. In 2015, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines removed recommended weekly limits on egg consumption, which seemed to suggest that the issue had finally been settled in eggs’ favour. However, a recent study has given the anti-egg side of the debate renewed force after it showed that eating more eggs could lead to higher risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.
Given the popularity of eggs, it’s important for anybody studying food and nutrition to stay on top of the latest research into their possible health benefits or risks. Here’s a look at what the research says about the great egg debate.
What Students in Nutrition and Health Programs Should Know About This Study
This latest study followed 29,615 adults over a period spanning up to 31 years. The researchers found that eating an extra three to four eggs per week correlated to a 6 per cent increase in cardiovascular disease risk and an 8 per cent increase in premature death risk.
Such findings are significant, especially given the large population being studied. However, it’s important to point out that the study had limitations. For one, participants were only asked about their food intake at the beginning of the study, so researchers couldn’t track changes in diet that may have influenced the results. Given that the study spanned 31 years, that’s a major limitation. Furthermore, that dietary data was self-reported, which makes it particularly prone to error.
The study also doesn’t establish that eggs are a cause of higher cardiovascular and premature death risk, only that a correlation exists. Other factors could explain why people who eat more eggs have a higher risk of heart disease and death. For example, it’s possible that people who eat more eggs are also more likely to eat other foods that have a more established role in cardiovascular disease.
Controversy About Eggs Centres on Their High Cholesterol Content
The main source of contention concerning eggs is their high cholesterol content. A single yolk in a large egg, for example, contains about 200 mg of dietary cholesterol. However, cholesterol in foods doesn’t necessarily translate into cholesterol in the blood. Blood cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease, but there is little evidence that dietary and blood cholesterols are actually linked. Saturated and trans fats have a much greater effect on blood cholesterol levels, for example, than the cholesterol found in eggs does.
It also needs to be stressed that many other studies have found that moderate egg consumption of up to one per day is not associated with higher risk of heart disease. Plus, eggs do contain a lot of the important nutrients and minerals that you’ll learn about in your nutrition and health programs, including protein, vitamins B12, D, and B6, selenium, copper, iron, and zinc.
So, if you’re pursuing a certificate in nutrition and trying to come to a conclusion about whether or not eggs are healthy, the answer is: it’s complicated. While there are certainly healthier and less healthy foods available, moderate egg consumption is probably still okay. That being said, the debate about eggs looks set to continue at least for the foreseeable future.
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