Good Eggs vs. Bad Eggs: A New Skirmish in the War on Cholesterol

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A review published in JAMA has linked dietary cholesterol in eggs to increased risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality... again. Professional opinions vary about whether eggs are good or bad for you, with some experts saying they’re fine despite being high in cholesterol, and others saying you should eat them sparingly.

Egg yolks contain cholesterol, a substance also found in shellfish, dairy foods, and red meat that can clog the arteries and raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. A large egg contains about 187 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. In 2016, U.S. Dietary Guidelines for dietary cholesterol changed — from no more than 300 mg per day, 200 mg for those at high risk of heart disease — to no specific recommendation, and egg consumption in the United States went up.

This new analysis included data from six large studies involving nearly 30,000 people over an average of more than 17 years. The researchers found that people who ate two eggs per day had a 27 percent higher risk of heart disease, and each additional 300 mg of dietary cholesterol per day resulted in a 17 percent increased risk for heart disease and an 18 percent higher risk of early death from any cause.

Eggs are high in protein, and even with this latest research, low-to-moderate egg consumption — no more than an egg per day — is now thought to be fine for most people, as long as it’s part of a heart-healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.