Egg intake and cardiovascular risk
Scharer M, Schulthess G.
Medizinische Poliklinik, Departement fur Innere Medizin, Universitatsspital Zurich.
Egg yolk has the highest content of cholesterol observed in different types of food. Intake of one egg per day increases the serum concentration of LDL cholesterol by 0.10 mmol/l. In healthy people eating a Western diet, egg consumption does not correlate with cardiovascular risk. However, a significant increase of the risk was observed in diabetic subjects starting from an intake of 5-7 eggs per week. However, dietary pattern rather than a single component of nutrition influences cardiovascular risk. The egg - rich in proteins, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals - should be part of our nutrition, and it is not justified to recommend a general limitation of egg intake. However, we do not advice unbalanced high egg consumption. A cardioprotective diet is characterized by high variability and contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates.
Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations.
Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Extensive research has not clearly established a link between egg consumption and risk for coronary heart disease. The effects of egg intake on plasma lipids and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) atherogenicity in healthy populations need to be addressed. RECENT FINDINGS: The lack of connection between heart disease and egg intake could partially be explained by the fact that dietary cholesterol increases the concentrations of both circulating LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in those individuals who experience an increase in plasma cholesterol following egg consumption (hyperresponders). It is also important to note that 70% of the population experiences a mild increase or no alterations in plasma cholesterol concentrations when challenged with high amounts of dietary cholesterol (hyporesponders). Egg intake has been shown to promote the formation of large LDL, in addition to shifting individuals from the LDL pattern B to pattern A, which is less atherogenic. Eggs are also good sources of antioxidants known to protect the eye; therefore, increased plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in individuals consuming eggs are also of interest, especially in those populations susceptible to developing macular degeneration and eye cataracts. SUMMARY: For these reasons, dietary recommendations aimed at restricting egg consumption should not be generalized to include all individuals. We need to acknowledge that diverse healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet.