The Great Egg Debate is Back

April 03, 2019

Saba Zahid, RD, LDN
Patient Experience Manager

Eggs are in the news, again. A recently published study is creating a stir and has everyone questioning (again) whether eggs should be a part of their diet. Two years ago, I wrote an article stating that eggs could be a part of a healthy diet . So, what’s the deal?  

The study that has re-ignited the infamous egg debate was published a few weeks ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  The authors reviewed six different studies, evaluated the collective findings, and concluded that higher consumption of cholesterol, or eggs, significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease. More specifically, for every additional 300 mg of dietary cholesterol consumed, there was an increased risk of any type of cardiovascular disease.

While a well-intentioned study, it is important to note some of the limitations of the study. The researchers evaluated six different studies that were conducted using different methods. This means the information from each study is highly variable and makes it harder to compare the numbers.   Additionally, the studies relied on patients recalling what they ate over the past few weeks. Many people, myself included, can’t remember what they had to eat the night before, let alone a couple of weeks ago. So accuracy of the information provided is problematic. Another thing to consider is that the studies only asked about dietary intake at the beginning of the studies but followed patients for multiple years (average time frame of the six studies was 17.5 years). This is another concern when trying to draw conclusions about correlations between diet and health. Diet patterns change throughout our life and this is not taken into consideration. An individual’s diet could have gotten better (or worse) but the authors drew conclusions based on the initial dietary information that they received.

While eggs are getting a bad rap here, it is important to point out that cholesterol is found in all animal products. So while one egg contains approximately 187 mg of cholesterol, eggs are not the only culprit. There is cholesterol in bacon, ground beef, full-fat milk, and shrimp, just to name a few. If these foods are part of a person’s diet, these foods too will contribute to their total cholesterol intake and the potential impact on cardiovascular health. The conclusions of the study seem to be almost exclusively attributed to egg consumption.

Additionally, there are other health influences that can impact your cardiovascular health. Smoking, BMI, weight, and physical activity levels should also be factored in. As we’ve mentioned many times, it’s about the big picture. What does the rest of your diet look like? Are you getting enough fruits and non-starchy vegetables, which contribute necessary fiber to help with blood sugar and cholesterol management? Are you eating burgers, steaks, and other red-meat protein more than two times a week?

So at the end of the day, you don’t need to eliminate eggs from your diet. Per the American Heart Association, an egg a day can still be a part of a healthy diet. Need help navigating all the nutrition news and figuring out what you should include in your diet? Schedule an outpatient nutrition counseling appointment with one of our registered dietitians at Shore Medical Center. For more information, contact us at 609-653-4600, opt 5 visit our website at www.shoremedicalcenter.org/nutrition-counseling.  Our office recently moved out of the hospital to 710 Centre Street, Somers Point, with convenient parking directly across from the entrance.