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Balancing and communicating risks and benefits associated with egg consumption – a relative risk study

01/05/2007

The American Heart Association (AHA) and the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommend restricting egg consumption based on the hypothesis that egg intake will result in an increase in blood cholesterol levels, which, in turn, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease (CVD) risks.

However, several studies have shown that dietary cholesterol from eggs has little, if any, effect on plasma cholesterol or the risk for heart diseases after adjustment for other potential risk factors.

Further, eggs are known to be a good source of high quality protein, B vitamins and folate, fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, and E, and essential minerals (iodine, zinc, calcium, and iron). Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which might be involved in the prevention of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and rich in choline, which may have a role in normal development of memory.

Hence, wide-sweeping recommendations to restrict egg consumption to avoid CVD risk may be misguided when nutritional contributions from eggs are not considered. A relative risk study was conducted to evaluate and quantify the relative risks of CVD associated with dietary cholesterol and eggs compared to other factors including BMI, dietary, lifestyle, or drugs, etc. on cardiovascular disease and the health benefits of egg consumption.

Estimates of egg contribution to dietary cholesterol and nutrition are developed based on consumption data from nationwide food consumption survey. A report card to communicate the relative risks of egg cholesterol and the nutritional benefits is explored in this paper

Reference

Tran N, Barraj L, Mink P et al. (2007) FASEB Journal 21:677.6

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