We recently conducted a survey with our health professional groups (n = 2440) to determine perceptions of eggs and nutrition. The survey has proved to be a great way to connect with health professionals and to learn what education and materials ENC should present at conferences and events.
The good news is 97.41% of the respondents correctly identified eggs as a healthy part of a diet, and 45% tell their healthy clients to have an egg a day or not to limit egg intake. Over 35%, however, still recommend consuming only 3-4 eggs/week, and 70% of respondents told those with cardiovascular risks over 70% to consume less than 3-4 eggs per week. The truth is, an egg a day is OK!
We know generally that dietary cholesterol does not impact serum cholesterol (except with hyper-responders). Interestingly when health professionals were asked about contributors to heart disease cholesterol in the diet ranked low, but when asked the reasons for the suggestion to limit eggs – cholesterol was cited at nearly 50%.
Here are some key research recaps (although there are many more):
- More than 40 years of research have demonstrated that healthy adults can enjoy eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.
[Harman NL, et al. Increased dietary cholesterol does not increase plasma low density lipoprotein when accompanied by an energy-restricted diet and weight loss. European Journal of Nutrition 2008; 47:287-293.]
- The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans support the role of eggs in a healthy diet. The report, released in January 2011, states that healthy individuals can enjoy an egg daily and suggests an egg a day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels.
[U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 7th Edition, Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, December 2010.]
- Egg consumption does not significantly impact the LDL:HDL ratio – one of the best known and scientifically established indicators of heart disease risk. A 2008 review of more than 30 studies published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition argued that the LDL:HDL ratio is a much better indicator of heart disease risk than either indicator alone.
[Fernandez ML and Webb D. The LDL to HDL Cholesterol Ratio as a Valuable Tool to Evaluate Coronary Heart Disease Risk. JACN 2008;27 (1): 1-5.]
Here is some great information that you can use with other health care providers and your patients.
There is still much confusion about cholesterol and eggs, even though there is over 40 years of research that tells a positive story. In future posts, we’ll look beyond the cholesterol story and highlight the other nutritious and delicious parts of the egg.