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March 15, 2019

Are eggs healthy? New study warns against eating too many

Researchers link dietary cholesterol to heart disease

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Are eggs healthy? A new study links eggs to increased heart disease and death.

Are eggs good for you? The question has been asked many times over the years, often drawing different responses. 

The most recent U.S. dietary guidelines removed the previously suggested 300-milligram daily limit of dietary cholesterol – found in eggs. Yet, the guidelines still urged Americans to consume as little dietary cholesterol as possible. That's because high-cholesterol foods also tend to be high in saturated fats, which the guidelines deemed a far greater risk to heart health.

The new guidelines, issued three years ago, seemingly left eggs in the clear, given that their yolks are high in cholesterol, but low in saturated fats.

But new research suggests people might want to watch the number of eggs they eat each week. The study, published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, linked eating eggs to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death. 

Consuming at least 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol each day is linked to a 17 percent increase risk of heart disease and an 18 percent risk of death by any cause. Two eggs – at about 186 milligrams of cholesterol each – would put people over that limit.

Additionally, researchers found that people who ate three or four eggs each week had an 8 percent higher risk of death and a 6 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The study's lead author, Victor Wenze Zhong, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, told Newsweek that researchers found the risks transfer to people who ate relatively healthy diets.

"This suggests limiting foods rich in dietary cholesterol, such as eggs, may be important to consider when choosing a healthy eating pattern," Zhong said. 

Still, Zhong recommended people avoid eliminating eggs and high-cholesterol foods completely, saying that unintentionally might limit necessary amino acids, iron and choline, leading to an imbalanced diets. Instead, he suggested simply eating egg whites or consuming whole eggs in moderation.

The human body creates blood cholesterol, which is needed to make hormones and digest fatty foods, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal products, including meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.

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