“Are eggs really that bad for us?”
“Is dietary cholesterol really that important?”
These questions still circulate. When the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans was published, it had some conflicting recommendations. It recommended that we eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible, but also stated that cholesterol was no longer a nutrient of concern.
This led to many Americans resuming their eating of eggs, or at least eating them with less worry.
Since then, there have been numerous studies conducted to learn if eggs, and specifically the cholesterol in whole eggs, is really that bad for us.
Some short-term, small studies (funded by the egg industry) seemed to support the conclusion that eggs are not a problem.
But the longer, larger population studies, with hard end-points (death) tell a different story.
Egg and Cholesterol Consumption Study
The latest study was published in PLOS Medicine in February 2021. “Egg and cholesterol consumption and mortality from cardiovascular and different causes in the United States: A population-based cohort study.”
Researchers followed over 520,000 people for 16 years, tracking their egg and cholesterol consumption. What did they find?
- Whole eggs and cholesterol were both positively associated with dying from cardiovascular disease, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
- Each additional half of a whole egg a day was associated with 7% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease or cancer.
- Each intake of an additional 300 mg of cholesterol a day was associated with a 16% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and a 24% higher risk of dying of cancer. (A large egg delivers about 187 mg of cholesterol.)
Eggs and Cancer
Dietary cholesterol increases the incidence of breast and pancreatic cancers and is related to higher incidence of ovarian cancer. Researchers believe this is because cholesterol is linked with pro-inflammatory cytokines, like interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-a.
Eggs and Diabetes and COPD
Whole egg and cholesterol intake was also associated with higher risk of dying from respiratory disease and diabetes. This agrees with another study that concluded that eating 3 or more eggs per week is associated with a higher risk of diabetes. And we know that serum cholesterol is associated with airway resistance in patients with COPD.
Eggs and Kidney and Liver Disease
There was also a borderline positive association with kidney disease and chronic liver disease mortality. Excess cholesterol is one of the main factors for the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The bottom line?
Whole eggs and dietary cholesterol increase the risk of death.
I don’t know about you, but I am not motivated to eat something that is associated with dying early. I want to live a long, healthy life free of unnecessary pills and procedures. And free of premature death.
You know what the study also showed?
Substituting an equivalent amount of nuts or legumes (beans, peas, lentils) for half a whole egg was related to 9%-35% lower mortality from cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory disease.
The soybean is a legume that is associated with reduced cancer risk. If you are motivated to avoid eggs, try making this delicious and satisfying tofu scramble.
About 655,000 Americans die from heart disease each year. That’s 1 in 4 people. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There is now a mountain of evidence that about 90% of these deaths from heart disease never have to happen. All we have to do is adopt a whole food, plant-based diet – the only way of eating proven to prevent and reverse heart disease.
We can literally save our lives with our fork and a straw.
Learn more about the Juicy Plant-Based KickStart Program.