In recent years, studies on the effects of eggs on health have yielded conflicting results. Now, a new study reports that even though eggs can boost HDL ("good") cholesterol, they raise total cholesterol even more. The researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands say that people should limit egg consumption to reduce their risk of heart disease.
They reviewed 17 medical studies involving 556 individuals and found that adding 100 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol to the diet each day, the equivalent of half an egg, increased the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol in the blood. They showed that because of the additional cholesterol, consuming one more egg per day would increase the risk of heart attack by about 2%, which on a population level is substantial.
Cholesterol, found in animal foods such as meat and dairy products, has been shown to increase both total cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol, which contribute to heart disease risk. But some studies have shown that eggs in particular may not affect a person's risk, possibly because they also boost blood levels of HDL, which protects against heart disease. Eggs also contain small amounts of other nutrients that may reduce a person's risk of heart disease such as vitamin E, folate, B vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids.
But the overall evidence seems to weigh in against unlimited egg consumption, the researchers conclude.
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