How risky is it to eat an egg? For decades, we’ve been warned to avoid eggs, especially yolks. We should stick with egg white omelets if we persist in consuming them at all. The idea is that egg yolks are packed with cholesterol. Each one contains between 175 and 200 mg. People at risk of cardiovascular complications such as stroke or heart attack are admonished to watch their cholesterol.
Could You Eat an Egg Every Day?
Results from the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study indicate, however, that eating up to an egg every day does not increase men’s risk of stroke (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 16, 2019). One thousand nine hundred fifty healthy middle-aged men began the study in the late 1980s. Two decades later, researchers compared men with the most cholesterol in their diets and those with the least. Perhaps surprisingly, they detected no significant differences in the risk of stroke between them. Even the third of men with the ApoE4 genotype that increases cardiovascular risk did no worse if they ate eggs.
The researchers conclude:
“Neither egg nor cholesterol intakes were associated with stroke risk in this cohort, regardless of apoE phenotype.”
Other Research on Eggs and Cardiovascular Health:
This is not the first time the results from the Kuopio study in eastern Finland have exonerated eggs. A few years ago, investigators reported that these men, including those with high-risk ApoE4 genotype, did not have more heart attacks if they ate a daily egg. Moreover, a meta-analysis found that people who eat an egg a day have a slightly lower risk of stroke. Apparently, egg eaters have neither higher nor lower risk of coronary heart disease (Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Nov-Dec. 2016).
Many public health experts urge people to limit their consumption of cholesterol to lower heart disease risk. Egg yolks are rich in cholesterol, so they have been on the forbidden list for some time. But the data from studies of people who eat an egg a day or less don't clearly establish that this is a problem.
Not All Studies Agree:
Scientists are not unanimous on the risks of eggs. Recently, some researchers reported that eating just half an egg a day increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by 6 percent (JAMA, March 19, 2019). On the other hand, the PREDIMED study concluded that low to moderate egg consumption was not linked to heart trouble (Clinical Nutrition, Aug. 2017). With so much uncertainty, though, you might do best to eat an egg a day or fewer. Moderation is a virtue.