New research paper cracks myths around eggs and cardiovascular disease
A new research review paper (here) - "Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol: cracking the myths around eggs and cardiovascular disease” - has just been published in volume 12 of the Journal of Nutritional Science.
The review – written by Rona Antoni (Diabetes Specialist Dietitian) – shows that individual responsiveness to both dietary cholesterol and saturated fat varies from person to person and highlights ongoing research designed to allow personalised dietary advice in the future.
It confirms that within the general population, eggs can be enjoyed as part of a healthy balanced diet, with restrictions on dietary cholesterol only necessary for specific high-risk groups.
Heart and circulatory diseases, including stroke and cardiovascular disease (CVD), account for a quarter of deaths in the UK. High low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels are a significant contributor to CVD.
Eggs are a source of dietary cholesterol, which is why they’ve historically received bad press. However, over 60 years of research has revealed that the dietary cholesterol from eggs has a relatively small effect on LDL-cholesterol and CVD risk, in comparison to other diet and lifestyle factors . The saturated fat that often co-exists in food containing dietary cholesterol is the dominant driver of LDL-cholesterol, rather than the food itself.
The new paper provides a detailed overview of the mechanisms underlying biological variation in individual responses to dietary cholesterol and saturated fat, and describes research currently underway to identify simple biomarkers that could hopefully enable tailored dietary advice in the future.
Current dietary guidelines recommend limits on saturated fat, but not on dietary cholesterol, other than for high-risk groups. Heart UK advises that individuals in high-risk groups can eat three or four eggs a week.
The British Heart Foundation backs these findings, stating that “for most people, the way you cook eggs or the foods you serve alongside are more important than the eggs themselves. Poaching or boiling is healthier than frying in bacon fat or scrambling with butter.”
Eggs also contain beneficial vitamins and minerals like B vitamins, vitamin D, selenium and iodine, and are a low-calorie source of protein, making them particularly beneficial for those looking to control their weight.