Eating eggs does not increase your risk of heart disease

There’s egg-cellent news for fans of omelettes, soufflés and caesar salads, with researchers claiming that eggs do not increase your chances of developing heart disease – even if you eat 12 a week!

A randomised control trial, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating up to 12 eggs a week does not increase cardiovascular risk factors, even for people with type 2 diabetes.

For the study, 128 participants at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital were put on either a high-egg (12 eggs per week) or low-egg (less than two eggs per week) diet for 12 months.

After the first three months, the participants were put on a weight loss program with an emphasis on replacing foods high in saturated fats with good fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats) such as swapping butter with avocado or olive oil.

Researchers tracked a broad range of cardiovascular risk factors, including cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Participants were followed up at the nine and 12 month visits.

At the end of the trial, both groups of participants showed no adverse changes in cardiovascular risk markers.

In the past there has been debate about egg consumption amid concern that they can increase blood cholesterol levels.

The Heart Foundation recommends a maximum of six eggs per week for people with type 2 diabetes, who are at greater risk of cardiovascular disease as a result of the condition.

Dr Nick Fuller from the University’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders at the Charles Perkins Centre, says this recommendation is based on “outdated science” and should be changed.

“In the past it has been reported that people that were on high egg diets were more likely to develop heart disease, type 2 diabetes but a lot of those didn’t explain for different factors like what else was in the diet,” he said.

It is more likely the foods high in saturated fat that are often served with eggs, such as butter and bacon that are harmful, according to Dr Fuller.

“People can be having many more eggs than what we are currently being told in Australia,” he said.

“While eggs themselves are high in dietary cholesterol – and people with type 2 diabetes tend to have higher levels of the ‘bad’ low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – this study supports existing research that shows consumption of eggs has little effect on the levels of cholesterol in the blood of the people eating them,” Dr Fuller explained.

The research, which was supported with a grant from Australian Eggs, also showed the different egg diets had no impact on weight loss.

A healthy diet based on population guidelines and including more eggs than currently recommended by some countries may be safely consumed.

“Eggs are a nutritious food and having up to 12 eggs a week will not have an adverse effect on your cardiovascular risk profile or diabetes risk,” Dr Fuller said.

Free Range vs Cage Eggs

When choosing between the type of eggs to purchase, a recent Canstar Blue survey found that more than half of Aussie shoppers (54%) choose free range eggs, while 22% buy caged hen eggs, 12% barn laid/cage free eggs and only 4% choose organic.

Most caged egg consumers (91%) were found to be buying caged eggs because they are the cheapest and identified that they would purchase free range eggs if they were cheaper (88%).

For those who buy free range eggs, 82% said they are happy to pay more, with 83% stating they think free range eggs taste better/are better quality, while 85% purchase the range because they don’t want to support the caged egg industry.

The survey formed part of Canstar Blue’s 2018 customer satisfaction ratings for eggs, with ALDI Lodge Farms the highest rated. The supermarket giant received five star reviews on freshness, taste and value for money.

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