In 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) advised the public to avoid eating eggs because they were thought to increase low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or “bad” cholesterol. However, there has been a large amount of research proving egg’s health benefits since then.
One recent study at the University of Connecticut (UConn) found that egg consumption in young, healthy adults did not affect the risk of cardiovascular disease. The study compared participants ages 18-35 that consumed either no eggs, three egg whites daily or three whole eggs daily.
Catherine J. Andersen, UConn Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences and lead researcher, found that blood samples from study participants who consumed whole eggs daily showed a significant increase in choline, which is an essential nutrient found in egg yolk.
According to Andersen, choline intake is associated with increases in trimethylene N-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite linked to heart disease. However, Andersen found that the amount of TMAO did not change in the participants, regardless of the increases in choline intake.
“That’s kind of the best-case scenario,” Andersen stated. “We want to have rich amounts of this important nutrient, but not increase this metabolite that could potentially promote cardiovascular disease.”
Additionally, researchers found no negative changes in the participant’s inflammation or blood cholesterol levels but did note that consuming whole eggs had less of a negative impact on markers associated with diabetes risk compared to consuming egg whites only.
In general, study participants showed a greater nutrient density in their diet when consuming the whole eggs, including a higher level of higher hematocrit, which is a measure of red blood cell density in the blood.
When conducting a study that evaluates the impact of eggs on human health, Andersen believes it is important to perform a comprehensive review, like this one, that considers health measurements a doctor would look at during a routine physical.
“It helps to provide a comprehensive picture of the effects of egg intake in a young, healthy population utilizing standard, routine clinical biomarkers,” she stated. “We believe that allows for greater translation to the general public.”
It’s good to know that the industry is working towards breaking the decades old myth that eggs should be avoided. Now, the industry just needs to educate consumers on the fact that eggs with brown shells are not healthier than egg with white shells.