Since the 1980s, scientists have been debating whether or not eggs are safe to eat for your cardiovascular health. High in cholesterol, eggs have been believed to contribute to atherosclerosis, clogging up one’s arteries. In this way, eggs were presumed to contribute to coronary heart disease, and those with high cholesterol and cardiovascular issues were recommended to avoid eggs altogether. But are eggs really so dangerous to your heart health? This is what we are going to examine in this article.
Eggs and Cholesterol
Eggs are among the most cholesterol-rich foods. It has been estimated that one large egg contains about 200 mg of cholesterol, which is around 65% of the recommended daily intake. But in the past ten years, our perception of cholesterol has changed dramatically, and we have discovered that not all cholesterol is bad for us, and the contribution of cholesterol to our heart health may be lower than we initially thought.
Keep in mind that eggs contain both the good (HDL) and the bad (LDL) cholesterol variety, with the former having a protective effect on the arteries and the latter being the culprit behind clogged arteries. Still, by eating one whole egg, you’d be consuming more than half of the allowed amount of cholesterol, which is why they were believed to contribute to atherosclerosis and heart disease, to begin with. But does the cholesterol contained in eggs really spike up our blood cholesterol levels?
A Ticking Time Bomb or Nutrient Rich Food?
To establish whether or not eggs are the culprit behind clogged arteries, countless scientific investigations, both big and small, were carried out over the years. The most recent review study published in January of 2020 collected the data from 32 years worth of research on the topic, ending up with millions of participants from many different countries.
This study, published in the British Medical Journal, concludes that consuming a moderate amount of eggs daily, up to 1 egg per day, does NOT increase one’s risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or coronary heart disease. A different study from the Netherlands, however, points out that adding every additional egg to your daily intake will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease by 2%.
In other words, while being safe in moderate quantities, eating eggs in higher volumes can be dangerous, especially for those who are already at a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, be it hereditary or acquired. So, if anyone in your family has suffered from cardiovascular problems, or if you have a low activity level and have a diet rich in added sugar, red meat, processed meat, and saturated fats, you ought to minimize your egg intake as much as you can.
If, however, you have no family history of the disease and maintain an overall healthy diet full of plant-based foods and lean meats, you can freely consume an egg every day. This is especially true when it comes to those who don’t consume a lot of protein, as eggs are quite high in protein content. In fact, all of the cholesterol in the egg comes from the egg yolk, and egg whites contain little to none of the stuff, consisting mostly of protein.
Apart from that, eggs are rich in other nutrients known to protect your heart and arteries from disease and as being essential to human health, such as most B vitamins, vitamin E, and unsaturated fats. This means that by consuming eggs within the recommended quantity of 1 per day, you might actually be preventing cardiovascular issues, and not causing them.
The bottom line is, you can enjoy the occasional morning omelet without the fear of causing harm to your heart, but you must remember not to eat more than an egg a day, especially if your overall diet isn't that healthy.