If you love whipping up an omelette or Eggs Benedict, I've got good news for you. A new study says eating an egg every day can lower your risk of heart disease, and the findings are exciting for anyone who can't live without brunch. The study, published in journal Heart, was conducted by researchers at various medical institutes in China and the United Kingdom. The researchers studied more than 500,000 adults between 30 and 79 years old over a four-year period. They wanted to figure out whether egg consumption had any effect on a person's risk of heart disease and stroke. People who ate an egg a day had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease compared to people who rarely ate eggs.
Health experts have warned against eggs in the past because they contain cholesterol — Harvard Medical School notes that the thought process was simple. Egg yolks have cholesterol, and we want to avoid the complications that come with consuming too much of the substance. But now experts know that other things contribute to our cholesterol levels, like liver damage and complications from medication. As the study notes, "Eggs are a prominent source of dietary cholesterol, but they also contain high-quality protein, many vitamins and bioactive components such as phospholipids and carotenoids." Basically, the benefits of egg consumption may outweigh the risks, and the risks of egg consumption may have been overstated in the first place.
In order to keep the results as accurate as possible, the study adjusted for other things that could contribute to cardiovascular disease, like smoking, drinking, exercise, diet and a family history of heart attacks or strokes. (According to the American Heart Association, you're more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease or a stroke if your parents or grandparents have the conditions.) Even with the study being controlled for external factors, eggs reigned supreme.
Interestingly, people who ate eggs regularly also made more money and were more likely to take multivitamins and supplements. Participants ate, on average, 0.47 eggs a day, which sounds like some serious willpower. China consumes more eggs per person each year than the U.S., according to a study from the International Egg Commission, so the nation actually relies more on eggs than Americans do.
Before you run to the grocery store to buy everything in their dairy section, it's important to note that there are some caveats here, which is the case with most studies. First, eating half an egg a day seems relatively difficult. It's not clear how the study participants consumed their eggs, but most breakfast dishes call for at least two eggs, so if you are eating brunch every day, you could be overdoing it.
The study's authors say that they didn't have enough participants who ate more than one egg a day to research any links between high egg consumption and cardiovascular disease. Also, the people who participated in the study also self-reported their average egg intake, so they may have over- or under-estimated. Lastly, there's a possibility that people adjust their egg intake due to unrelated illnesses or symptoms.
Still, the study is the first of its kind to find decreased risk of heart disease thanks to egg consumption, and it goes against everything we were taught a decade or two ago. Most of us probably don't need to adjust our egg consumption, but if you've been cutting out eggs altogether out of fear they'd make you unhealthy, incorporating them into your diet could actually prove to be a good decision for your heart health. It's just a bonus that they're really tasty.