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Up to an Egg a Day Is Fine, Scientists Say

Another study–one with 5.5 million person-years of data–shows that eating an egg a day won't increase your chance of a heart attack.
Up to an Egg a Day Is Fine, Scientists Say
Healthy vegetarian breakfast flat-lay. Breakfast plate – cracker, arugula, cherry tomatoes and fried egg on dark wooden background, top view, copy space. Clean eating food concept

Last week a global study showed that people can safely eat as much as an egg a day. They don’t increase their likelihood of a heart attack that way. This week, US scientists published independent research that came to the same conclusion.

Eating as Much as an Egg a Day Is Safe for the Heart:

The study included data on more than 200,000 American health care professionals (The BMJ, March 4, 2020). The investigators collected dietary information on these nurses and male health care professionals every few years and followed them up for decades. With over 5.5 million person-years of observation, they feel very confident in their conclusions.

The researchers found no link between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease. 

In fact, the authors concluded:

“Results from the three cohorts and from the updated meta-analysis show that moderate egg consumption (up to one egg per day) is not associated with cardiovascular disease risk overall, and is associated with potentially lower cardiovascular disease risk in Asian populations.”

An accompanying editorial warns that such an observational study can’t establish cause and effect. 

It observes instead that the overall diet is more important than whether you eat an egg a day:

“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. If frequent egg consumption is occurring in the context of a typical Western dietary pattern (high levels of refined grains, added sugars, red and processed meats, and ultraprocessed foods), the best evidence for cardioprotection supports shifting one’s overall dietary pattern to a Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) or Mediterranean diet.”

Nonetheless, this is not the first study suggesting that it may be safe to eat an egg a day. Years ago, we received this question from an anxious wife:

Is It Really Safe to Eat Eggs Sometimes?

Q. My husband loves eggs and used to eat them several times a week. When he was told 25 years ago he had a cholesterol problem, he gave up eggs, butter and saturated fat.

Even with a good diet, his cholesterol stayed high. The doctor decided five years ago that my husband needed a cholesterol-lowering drug. He now takes Pravachol, which keeps his cholesterol around 180.

We just read that eggs are not a problem any more. This is hard to believe, but would it be all right for him to have an egg once in awhile?

Eating Up to an Egg a Day Is Fine:

A. As heretical as it may sound, eating up to an egg a day does not appear to increase most people’s risk of heart attack or stroke. In fact, the most recent meta-analysis of 16 studies including more than 1.2 million volunteers found that people who eat eggs lower their risk (Angiology, Jan. 31, 2020). 

These investigators wrote: 

“In conclusion, egg consumption is independently associated with low incidence/mortality of CAD [coronary artery disease], which may be derived from the comparisons of the fifth versus first quintile egg consumption.”

Learn More:

If you would like to learn more about how to follow a Mediterranean diet or a DASH diet, you might want to read our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. In it, we included details on both these dietary patterns along with many of our favorite healthy foods.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Citations
  • Drouhin-Chartier J-P et al, "Egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease: Three large prospective US cohort studies, systematic review, and updated meta-analysis." The BMJ, March 4, 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m513
  • Odegaard AO, "Egg consumption and cardiovascular disease." The BMJ, March 4, 2020. doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m744
  • Takagi H et al, "Egg consumption and coronary artery disease: A nice knockdown argument." Angiology, Jan. 31, 2020. DOI: 10.1177/0003319719897493
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