February is heart month, a time to build awareness around prevention and treatment of heart disease. Fortunately, for many Americans, prevention can be as simple as regular physical activity, avoiding cigarettes and second hand smoke, and following a heart healthy diet.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a heart healthy diet contains a variety of nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, poultry, fish, nuts and legumes. They also recommend limiting foods high in calories, sodium, saturated fat and trans fat.1 Previously, AHA had recommended limiting cholesterol. But since mounting evidence has shown dietary cholesterol does not impact heart disease, that restriction has been removed, which is consistent with other health and government organizations, such as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
This is good news for eggs (and people who love eating them!). Despite containing cholesterol, eggs are a nutrient dense food with potential health benefits. In fact, recent studies have shown that eggs may have heart protective qualities. One study, published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, found that daily egg intake led to a 12% reduced risk of stroke.2 Other research found that eating 1 to 3 eggs per day resulted in increased HDL (“good” cholesterol) levels and improved blood lipid profile.3 4
While more research is needed on eggs’ role in cardiometabolic health, it is clear that eggs can fit into an overall healthy meal pattern, such as a heart healthy diet.
1. The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp#.WJCWpFUrKHs
2. Alexander DD, Miller PE, Vargas AJ, Weed DL, Cohen SS. Meta-analysis of Egg Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke. J Am Coll Nutr. 2016 Oct 6:1-13.
3. Diana M DiMarco et al. Intake of up to 3 Eggs/Day Increases HDL Cholesterol and Plasma Choline while Plasma Trimethylamine-N-oxide is Unchanged in a Healthy Population. Lipids, (2017), DOI: 10.1007/s11745-017-4230-9
4. Diana M DiMarco et al. Intake of up to 3 Eggs per Day Is Associated with Changes in HDL Function and Increased Plasma Antioxidants in Healthy, Young Adults. Journal of Nutrition, (2017), DOI: 10.3945/jn.116.241877