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CommentaryHeart DiseaseNutritionPreventive MedicinePrimary Care

Eggs Are Back! Had They Ever Left?

By January 31, 2013February 21st, 20208 Comments

The British Medical Journal ( just reported that a review of studies of egg consumption determined that there was no increase in heart attacks or strokes related to regular eating of eggs.

Egg yolks contain cholesterol

In the past, we have frequently been advised to be careful about having more than an occasional egg because each egg yolk contains over 200 mg cholesterol (2/3 of the recommended daily cholesterol intake). Daily intake of eggs was thought to promote high cholesterol and adverse outcomes such as heart attack and stroke. Two weekly maximum was a frequent recommendation, otherwise use Egg Beaters.

Results of meta-analysis in BMJ

The study, BMJ 2013;346:e8539, just published January 7, has the engaging title of Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. It shows clearly that there is no increase in cardiovascular mortality at least up through 10 eggs per week.

What to think? Or to eat?

Once again, we are rebalancing what is recommended. This analysis strongly suggests that eggs are not inevitable vascular villains, but “nature’s perfect food” should still be consumed thoughtfully. Remember that the bacon and cheese and butter that often come along with the egg did not get a free pass. Those high-saturated-fat foods clearly raise the bad cholesterol (LDL) and contribute to clogging of the arteries with subsequent heart attack and stroke.

My suggestion is to understand that eggs in moderation, cleanly prepared without artery-stuffing accompaniments, are a healthy part of your diet. I’d interpret that to mean 2 poachers on toast two or three times a week, for example, are likely¬†fine if you want, but I’d still suggest that the high-fat bacon and eggs or cheese omelet be a Sunday morning treat, not your regular friend. And I will be watching your cholesterol and weight.


  • Stephen says:


  • george vela says:

    I like your writing style and news/topics. Always useful and educational. Thank you. Do you plan to replace TV-Dr. Gufta?

  • Keith says:

    I like egg salad so the mayonnaise is my villain. I cut the mayo with mustard. Not sure that’s any better.

    • DrKanner says:

      Mayo is an issue. The amount matters. Many delicatessan-bought egg salad and tuna salad preparations are really mayo infused with some eggs or tuna.

  • Wally Clausen says:

    I like eggs and have a history of high cholesterol. I’ve been on statins, and off, and now on again. One of the times I was on before, I also had requested a referral to a nutritionist. The nutritionist provided help and advice, but also said that most people she worked with ceased to be concerned about diet contributors to cholesterol once they were on statins. Basically, if cholesterol is now controlled by other means, eggs-away — eat what you want.

    Is that a reasonable approach, or is there a flaw in the science or reasoning someplace?

    • DrKanner says:

      I view statins as an important adjunct to control unreasonably high cholesterol. But I still think one’s nutritional pattern has effects, good or bad, far beyond just the cholesterol levels themselves. The Mediterranean diet study, remember, presumed an underlying diet low in saturated fat from animals or dairy, and had people on statins, but still showed increased benefit from additional olive oil and nuts. So I would not be running to eat Philly cheese steaks and fries along with your Lipitor or Crestor.

  • Wally Clausen says:

    The recent articles on the Mediterranean Diet’s results may have answered my above question. The research subjects included people on statins. As their statistics were pretty much the same as the non-statin members of the pool, I’d take away that pigging out on eggs and bacon, alas, remains a bad idea.

    • DrKanner says:

      Some eggs, lightly prepared (poached, scrambled, soft-boiled) are fine probably up to 10 per week. Bacon in general is a bad scene, as much for its extraordinarily high salt content as for the saturated fat. Canadian bacon, however, is an entirely different product and much more acceptable for weekend use. I am preparing a small piece on salt content in food for later this month.

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