New Meta-Analysis Findings: Eggs are Beneficial for Heart HealthPresident's Blog
Working in the egg industry is always an adventure – especially when it comes to the science! Researchers around the world are constantly conducting studies on diet and nutrition, and eggs are often in the spotlight.
It’s been many years since the worry of eggs and cholesterol was in the news, and the most recent studies on eggs as part of a balanced diet have been wholly positive. That theme continues with this new egg-related study that was published in the American Journal of Medicine in January, 2021.
Association Between Egg Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis is a US-based systematic review and meta-analysis, which is the strongest type of research to read. Meta-analyses are considered the ‘gold standard,’ since they provide a sweeping overview of previous studies and pool together the results in one place. For me, it’s an efficient way to review data from many studies in one place and learn the bottom line.
What is this new study all about?
The researchers set out to explore the association between egg consumption and overall cardiovascular disease events, such as coronary artery disease and stroke. While there have been many studies on heart health that support eating an egg (or more!) a day, there have also been studies that aren’t as supportive. When researchers use meta-analyses, they look at all studies and pool the results to get a more concrete answer – sort of like “majority rules.”
In this case, the researchers looked back at observational studies on the association between egg consumption and heart health from 1966 to 2020. From all of the available studies in that time frame, the meta-analysis looked at 23 studies and a combined total of 1,415,839 individuals with a follow-up of 12.8 years.
And what did they find when they pooled the results? And I quote: “Compared with the consumption of no or 1 egg/day, higher egg consumption (more than 1 egg/day) was not associated with significantly increased risk of overall cardiovascular disease events.” What was even more interesting is that higher egg consumption (more than 1 egg per day) was actually associated with a significantly decreased risk of coronary artery disease or stroke.
We’ve certainly come a long way from the warning of eggs being bad for heart health, to now having a meta-analysis say that eggs are actually beneficial for heart health!
Why are eggs beneficial for heart health?
Eggs may have protective effects for heart health due to the mix of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that they contain.
The researchers explain that the protection against heart disease may come from the lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs, plus the ability of the fat in eggs to naturally promote the absorption of these carotenoids.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants, which have been shown in a previous meta-analysis to be important for cardiovascular health. That meta-analysis showed a lower risk for coronary heart disease in people who had the highest concentration of lutein in their blood.
Lutein in eggs can vary, but in general -- the darker the yolk the better. Eggs in Canada have around 125 ug of lutein per egg. Interestingly, lutein levels are higher in Eastern Canada where hens are fed more corn in their diets, and lower in Western Canada where diets tends to be wheat-based. With our Omega Plus eggs, we feed the hens a diet with added marigold flower extract, which guarantees 1000 ug of lutein per 2 egg serving – that’s more than 3 times compared to regular eggs. You can learn more about lutein here .
Other research suggests that eating eggs increases the HDL “good” cholesterol in your blood. HDL particles carry cholesterol away from artery walls and back to the liver where it can be broken down and eliminated. This helps protect the heart. You can learn more about eggs and cholesterol here .
Eggs are also a source of essential nutrients including protein, iron, vitamins A, D and E, plus folate and selenium. These all play a role in health. Two-thirds of the fat found in eggs is unsaturated (the good kind!), and some specialty eggs also contain omega-3 fats, which are known to be cardio-protective.
No matter the reason, the science just keeps reaffirming the importance of eggs to overall health.
So, let’s put eggs on your menu this week. Try one of these fabulous recipes:
President, Burnbrae Farms
How Eggs Fit Into Canada’s Food Guide
Canada’s Food Guide offers tips and advice to help Canadians eat well. One component of the guide is the Food Guide Snapshot, a plate model that helps with meal planning. Have you seen it? It wisely proportions a plate into four quadrants, so it’s an easy visual for creating a balanced meal. You simply fill two quadrants with vegetables and fruit, one quadrant with whole grains, and the final quadrant with a source of protein such as eggs, beef, pork, poultry, dairy, tofu, or beans.
New Global Study – Higher Egg Intake Not Associated with Blood Lipids
Read about the most recent research about eggs, including one study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that supports eggs as a nutritious part of an overall diet. Many studies have shown that dietary cholesterol in eggs has little effect on blood cholesterol levels. I always watch for new studies about eggs and heart health to ensure that my knowledge is up to date.