According to new research, eating eggs may increase the quantity of heart-healthy metabolites in the blood, which may help explain why moderate egg consumption is protective against cardiovascular disease
Researchers recently published findings in the journal eLife that demonstrate how eating eggs can boost the number of heart-healthy metabolites in the blood.
According to the research, consuming up to one egg daily may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Despite the fact that eggs are a rich source of dietary cholesterol, they also provide a variety of important nutrients. There is contradictory evidence about whether eating eggs is good or bad for your heart. According to a 2018 study in the journal Heart, those who ate eggs regularly (about one egg per day) had a much reduced risk of heart disease and stroke than people who ate eggs less often. This study involved roughly 500,000 individuals in China. The authors of this research have now conducted a population-based study to further understand this association by looking at how egg intake impacts indicators of cardiovascular health in the blood.
“Few studies have looked at the role that plasma cholesterol metabolism plays in the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, so we wanted to help address this gap,” explains first author Lang Pan, MSc at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University, Beijing, China.
Pan and the team selected 4,778 participants from the China Kadoorie Biobank, of whom 3,401 had a cardiovascular disease and 1,377 did not. They used a technique called targeted nuclear magnetic resonance to measure 225 metabolites in plasma samples taken from the participants’ blood. Of these metabolites, they identified 24 that were associated with self-reported levels of egg consumption.
Their analyses showed that individuals who ate a moderate amount of eggs had higher levels of a protein in their blood called apolipoprotein A1– a building-block of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as ‘good lipoprotein’. These individuals especially had more large HDL molecules in their blood, which help clear cholesterol from the blood vessels and thereby protect against blockages that can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
The researchers further identified 14 metabolites that are linked to heart disease. They found that participants who ate fewer eggs had lower levels of beneficial metabolites and higher levels of harmful ones in their blood, compared to those who ate eggs more regularly.
“Together, our results provide a potential explanation for how eating a moderate amount of eggs can help protect against heart disease,” says author Canqing Yu, Associate Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University. “More studies are needed to verify the causal roles that lipid metabolites play in the association between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
“This study may also have implications for Chinese national dietary guidelines,” adds senior author Liming Li, Boya Distinguished Professor at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Peking University. “Current health guidelines in China suggest eating one egg a day, but data indicate that the average consumption is lower than this. Our work highlights the need for more strategies to encourage moderate egg consumption among the population, to help lower the overall risk of cardiovascular disease.”
The study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, The Kadoorie Charitable Foundation in Hong Kong, the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Key Research and Development Program of China.
Reference: “Association of egg consumption, metabolic markers, and risk of cardiovascular diseases: A nested case-control study” by Lang Pan, Lu Chen, Jun Lv, Yuanjie Pang, Yu Guo, Pei Pei, Huaidong Du, Ling Yang, Iona Y Millwood, Robin G Walters, Yiping Chen, Weiwei Gong, Junshi Chen, Canqing Yu Is a corresponding author, Zhengming Chen and Liming Li, on behalf of China Kadoorie Biobank Collaborative Group, 24 May 2022, eLife.