In healthy adults, consuming two eggs daily for 6 weeks does not have a harmful effect on endothelial function - an aggregate measure of cardiac risk - nor does it increase cholesterol levels, research shows. This suggests that eating eggs may not be as bad for the heart as many people contend.
Because of the cholesterol content of eggs, limiting their consumption is generally recommended as a way to reduce cardiac risk, say the investigators. However, emerging evidence suggests that dietary cholesterol has a much smaller effect on this risk than does saturated fat.
Dr. David L. Katz and colleagues, from the Yale Prevention Research Center in Derby, Connecticut, evaluated the effect that egg or oat consumption had on endothelial function in 49 healthy adults. Poor endothelial function is suspected of being an early sign of artery disease.
During the study period, flow-mediated dilation (FMD), a measure of how well the endothelium, the lining of the blood vessel, acts to keep blood moving by widening the vessel, was stable in both groups and did not differ significantly between them.
Egg intake did not cause an increase in either total or LDL cholesterol levels. By contrast, oat consumption significantly lowered levels of both.
“Usually, people are saying ‘you can’t eat this or you can’t eat that,’” Katz told Reuters Health, “it’s nice to have findings that exonerate a food, like eggs.”
Nevertheless, this may not be the case in patients who already have elevated lipids, a group at increased risk for endothelial dysfunction. “We’ve now started a study of adults with hyperlipidemia,” Katz added, “to determine if the current results apply to this group as well.”
The study was funded, in part, by the American Egg Board.
SOURCE: International Journal of Cardiology March 10, 2005.
Revision date: July 4, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD