Eat up, people. Another new analysis shows that diet high in cholesterol probably won’t give you a heart attack. Neither will a diet rich in eggs. Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found eating a boatload of eggs and globs of cholesterol don’t raise risk of heart disease, even in individuals genetically predisposed.
Eggs are high in cholesterol, so people swore off them for years. A single medium-sized egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol, which is about 62% of the recommended daily intake. A large egg contains around 213 mg of cholesterol.
For the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Jyrki Virtanen and colleagues looked at the dietary habits of more than 1,000 men. At the time of the study, none of the participants had been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Over the course of the 21-year study, 230 of them had a heart attack.
The scientists examined what the men ate and found no link between high consumption of dietary cholesterol and an increased risk of coronary heart disease.
Additionally, the study showed eating eggs was not linked to a higher incidence of coronary heart disease, nor with the thickening of carotid artery walls. The men in the highest control group consumed an average of 520 mg of cholesterol and ate about 1 egg a day.
Even among participants who were carriers of the ApoE4 phenotype, which affects cholesterol metabolism, no increased risk of heart disease was observed. People with the ApoE4 phenotype are more prone to high cholesterol and Alzheimer’s disease. Of the participants, 32.5% were carriers.
These findings support the American Heart Association’s revised dietary recommendations, released in 2000, suggesting that eating an egg a day is perfectly safe.
There have been very few studies linking the intake of dietary cholesterol to an increased risk of heart disease. In fact most nutritionists no longer recommend limiting the amount of dietary cholesterol people should ingest. The cholesterol myth has been busted.
Heart disease and most heart attacks are caused not by cholesterol, but by the buildup of atherosclerotic plaque resulting from inflammation and calcium deposits which can build up and rupture or clog arteries. Sometimes cholesterol is found in this plaque, but cholesterol is waxy and pliable and may actually be there to provide healing.
Despite the many low-fat products on the market, heart disease has continued to rise, and many people with low cholesterol have died from heart attacks and cardiovascular disease.
Enjoy your eggs.
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.