Study: Eggs, High-Cholesterol Meats Still Bad For The Heart, Despite USDA Guidelines

CHICAGO — If you’ve been downing more yolks daily on account of the latest guidelines claiming that eggs actually aren’t so bad for your heart, well, don’t put ’em all in that basket after all, warns new research. A study by researchers at Northwestern University finds that eating too many eggs each week may send you to the grave even sooner thanks to greater odds of death from any cause.

The average American consumes three to four eggs per week, and egg yolks have the highest concentration of cholesterol in the typical American diet, researchers say. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans put no limits on cholesterol intake or the number of eggs, despite the typical egg yolk containing about 186 milligrams of cholesterol. Other studies have also shown that eggs won’t add to one’s risk for heart disease.

But the authors of this latest research say that current U.S. guidelines for cholesterol intake might be inadequate to protect people from cardiovascular diseases, the leading cause of death in the country. It turns out that the average amount of cholesterol intake in American diets, 300 milligrams, may be unsafe.

The study collected data from a diverse group of 29,615 people over 31 years and found that adults who ate more eggs and dietary cholesterol had a much higher risk of cardiovascular disease and death from any cause.

“The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks,” says co-corresponding study author, Norrina Allen, an associate professor of preventative medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a university release. “As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease.”

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Of course, eggs aren’t the only culprit. Other animal products like red meat, high-fat dairy products, and processed meat also contain high amounts of cholesterol, which also contribute to a person’s cardiovascular disease risk, the researchers note.

What’s more, exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and one’s overall fat consumption in their diet made no difference on the findings. That said, researchers say it’s not necessary to completely remove eggs, red meat, and other sources of cholesterol that carry other health benefits, from one’s diet.

“We want to remind people there is cholesterol in eggs, specifically yolks, and this has a harmful effect,” says Allen — who adds that cooked scrambled eggs for her children that morning. “Eat them in moderation.”

The researchers used data collected with dietary and food frequency questionnaires or by taking a participant’s dietary history.

The study was published in JAMA.

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