Circle Back: New Evidence Linking Eggs, Cholesterol to Poor Cardiovascular Health and Death

Eggs Faces

Whole eggs and cholesterol intake were linked to higher mortality risk, while egg whites or substitutes were associated with lower risk of death in a recent study.

A person’s intake of whole eggs and cholesterol was positively associated with their risk of death, while intake of egg whites or egg substitutes was negatively associated with death in a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Yu Zhang of Zhejiang University College of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science, Jingjing Jiao of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, China, and colleagues.

Whether consumption of eggs and cholesterol is detrimental to cardiovascular health and longevity is highly debated, and data from large-scale cohort studies are scarce. In the new study, researchers used data on 521,120 participants from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. Participants were aged 50-71 years old, 41.2% women, 91.8% non-Hispanic white, and were recruited from 6 states and 2 cities in the US between 1995 and 1996.

During a mean follow-up of 16 years, 129,328 deaths occurred in the cohort. Whole egg consumption, as reported in a food questionnaire, was significantly associated with higher all-cause mortality after adjusting for demographic characteristics and dietary factors (P<0.001), but not after further adjusting for cholesterol intake (P=0.64). Every intake of an additional 300 mg dietary cholesterol intake per day was associated with a 19% higher all-cause mortality (95% CI 1.16-1.22) and each additional half a whole egg per day was associated with a 7% higher all-cause mortality (95% CI 1.06-1.08). In contrast, egg whites/substitutes consumption was significantly associated with lower all-cause mortality (P<0.001). Replacing half a whole egg with an equivalent amount of egg whites/substitutes was associated with a reduction of 3% in cardiovascular disease mortality.

“Our findings suggest limiting cholesterol intake and replacing whole eggs with egg whites/substitutes or other alternative protein sources for facilitating cardiovascular health and long-term survival,” the authors say.

Reference: “Egg and cholesterol consumption and mortality from cardiovascular and different causes in the United States: A population-based cohort study” by Pan Zhuang, Fei Wu, Lei Mao, Fanghuan Zhu, Yiju Zhang, Xiaoqian Chen, Jingjing Jiao and Yu Zhang, 9 February 2021, PLOS Medicine.
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1003508

Funding: Y.Z. is supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC1600500). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

3 Comments on "Circle Back: New Evidence Linking Eggs, Cholesterol to Poor Cardiovascular Health and Death"

  1. Isn’t this based on food questionnaires? I bet this is just correlation not causation, people who consume more eggs generally eat a bunch of fast food with it, people who don’t eat as much are associated with a better and balanced diet. The big factor here is the cholesterol intake and not eggs consumption, but people will immediately associate eggs as a bad thing, when that is not true, the author dind’t made that clear, this is science for marketing nothing else.

    • That egg consumption is associated with eating a “bunch of fast food” is a very out there guess at best and a wild generalization.

  2. This is just another post grad trying to get published. It is another load of unproven crap. Eat what you like. Just avoid eating greasy eggs and bacon every goddam day. People who do are friends of Darwin. just sayin…..

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