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I hear a lot of food myths in my practice, but the top three that really persist are that 1) coffee is bad for you, 2) eggs are bad for you, and 3) red meat is bad for you.
I've done a whole video on the first, and for the third, we know that it's not red meat that's really the problem, but processed meats like bacon, sausage, and cold cuts. Yet the myth still persists that eggs are bad for you.
There's been plenty of research to combat this notion over the years, but in my opinion today's research should really put the nail in the coffin (so to speak). In an article published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2020;111:795-803), a multi-national group of researchers utilized data from three large-scale, long-term epidemiological studies to assess any relationship between egg intake and the risk of death of several causes.
The first of the three studies is known as the Prospective Urban Epidemiology (PURE) study and includes over 146,000 individuals from 21 countries around the world, from low-income nations to wealthier nations. Recruitment began in 2003 and followup continued through July 2019.
The other two studies included a total of almost 32,000 persons, all over 55 years of age undergoing treatment for cardiovascular disease and being treated with specific medications - thus, at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, or heart attack. These studies were carried out in 40 middle- and high-income nations and the average followup was over 4 years (56 months).
All three studies assessed participants' food intake by administering a food frequency questionnaire that was either country- or region-specific. These allowed the authors to estimate the participants' egg consumption, by totaling not only their consumption of egg dishes such as hard boiled or scrambled eggs, but also combination dishes such as omelets as well as food items in which eggs are an ingredient, such as cakes or dressings like mayonnaise.
For the purposes of their analyses the authors grouped the participants into 5 levels of egg intake: <1 egg/week, 1-3 eggs/week, 3-5 eggs/week, 5-7 eggs/week, and >7 eggs per week. Using medical records from each country the authors could look at the rates of death from several causes for those at the highest levels of egg intake and compare them to the lowest levels of egg intake.
After taking into account multiple variables that included age; gender; total caloric intake; Body Mass Index; presence of conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other elements of medical history; levels of physical activity; consumption of foods such as fruit, vegetables, red meat, etc.; education; and more; the authors found that
In 3 large international prospective studies... we did not find significant associations between egg intake and blood lipids [cholesterol scores], mortality, or major CVD events [i.e., heart attack or stroke].... Also, no significant association was found between egg intake or dietary cholesterol and blood lipids [i.e., cholesterol scores].
Further, they state quite unequivocally that "Our findings indicate that egg intake of 1 serving/d is not harmful, and so can be consumed safely by most populations."
Just stop. Stop worrying about eggs. This research doesn't support having two eggs a day, every day, week in and week out, but a quick fried or scrambled egg on whole grain toast a few days a week is a delicious breakfast full of great-quality carbohydrates and high-quality protein. And by all means, have some scrambled eggs for breakfast on the weekend, or some Eggs Benedict.
First posted: April 15, 2020