Egg Nutrition Center Blog

When It Comes To Health, Diet Patterns Matter More Than How Many Eggs You Eat

citrus patterns

Associations between egg consumption and cardiovascular risk factors depends on the other foods and beverages consumed.

Researchers compared cardiovascular risk among adult egg eaters to those who did not report eating an egg or egg dish during their 24-hour food recall in the 2001-2008 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (Nicklas, 2014). Egg eaters were additionally sub-grouped based on overall diet patterns characterized using percent energy intake from food groups, resulting in a total of 8 diet patterns (i.e., no egg diet pattern and 7 diet patterns among egg eaters).

“Egg consumption was defined as consumption of foods primarily composed of whole eggs (eggs used in baking were not included).”

Risk factors were: body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), diastolic and systolic blood pressure, circulating insulin and glucose, several lipid concentrations (HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides), serum C-reactive protein measure of inflammation, and an index of insulin resistance (HOMA).

Only body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were associated with eating eggs compared to those who did not eat an egg on the day of the 24-hour food record. Results were adjusted for important confounding factors, like age, physical activity, and smoking, among others.

However, once egg eaters were separated into 7 diet patterns it became clear that the

“association found between egg consumption and BMI and WC was specifically driven by 2 of the 7 egg consumption patterns.”

And after adjusting for foods consumed, egg consumption was not associated with BMI and WC for one diet pattern, but remained for the second one. For this one diet pattern, the researchers noted:

“A striking result was the significantly higher percentage of energy from fast food in egg consumption pattern 7 compared with the no-egg-consumption pattern.”

These findings point out that it is simplistic to test and conclude that a single food (in this case eggs) is associated with a health risk or outcome. Careful analysis of the overall diet pattern is necessary to determine whether associated diet patterns may be the underlying relationship rather than the individual food.

Reference Citation

Nicklas, TA, CE O’Neil, and VL Fulgoni III. “Differing statistical approaches affect the relationship between egg consumption, adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors in adults.” J Nutr 2015;145:170S-176S.

Views expressed by the author may not be those of the Egg Nutrition Center.

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Author: Barbara Lyle, Ph.D.