An egg a day may offer protection against cardiovascular disease

Eating an egg a day may offer protection against cardiovascular disease (CVD) – most notably a 26% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke - when compared to those who eat no eggs, according to a large prospective study, published in the journal Heart1.  

Cath MacDonald, British Egg Information Service nutritionist, commented: “This research further proves, that thanks to their nutrient density, we should be actively encouraging egg consumption - as part of a healthy balanced diet - not restricting it.”

The Chinese researchers noted that ‘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.’

The Chinese research studied more than half a million healthy individuals between 2004 and 2008; ever since then the recruits, who were aged between 30-79yrs, have been followed-up to determine if their frequency of egg intake had any association with morbidity and mortality rates from CVD.

Researchers from the Peking University Health Science Centre found that those consuming up to one egg per day*, had a 26% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke and a 12% reduction in risk of ischaemic stroke, compared to those who ate none**.   Death-rates from both haemorrhagic and ischaemic stroke were also lower in the higher egg consumers, 28% and 18% lower, respectively; both types of stroke are a major cause of severe disability and death, globally.

Cath MacDonald said: “This research is very welcome and adds to the rapidly growing evidence-base that eggs contribute greatly to the nutritional quality of the diet and to our health.  

“Thankfully, research over the past few decades has all but silenced the cholesterol debate with no conclusive evidence linking eggs to poor cardiovascular health.  Restricting eggs in the diet of the healthy population has no purpose and dietary advice should concentrate on restricting saturated fat, a more critical priority in preventing heart disease. 

“Once and for all, we need to end the inherited, lingering doubts that some people still hold about eggs and dietary cholesterol being harmful to health.  This simply isn’t the case as the accumulating evidence continues to prove.”

It was originally thought that eating cholesterol-rich food was an important cause of high blood cholesterol levels and therefore increased heart disease risk. It is now universally accepted that saturated fat has a greater effect on our blood cholesterol levels than the cholesterol in the diet.  This study finds that an association exists between moderate egg intake and lower cardiac event rates.

For further information please contact the British Egg Information Service on 020 7052 8899

* Average 0.76 egg/day
** Average 0.29 egg/day