In a finding sure to crack the heart of egg-lovers everywhere, a new study says the breakfast staple is a high source of dietary cholesterol, which is linked to increased risk of heart disease and premature death. The sunny-side down news comes from Northwestern University researchers, who analyzed 30,000 U.S. adults over three decades.
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The researchers found that eating just three to four eggs per week was tied to a 6 percent higher risk of heart disease, and an 8 percent risk of dying from any cause, according to HealthDay. The researchers said their findings should be taken into consideration when updating dietary guidelines, which has recently shifted its focus from cholesterol limits to reducing saturated fats.
“The take-home message is really about cholesterol, which happens to be high in eggs and specifically yolks,” Norina Allen, Ph.D., one of the study’s authors, told CBS News. “As part of a healthy diet, people need to consume lower amounts of cholesterol. People who consume less cholesterol have a lower risk of heart disease.”
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It’s not the first time the message on egg consumption has been scrambled. Earlier this year a panel of nutrition agriculture and environmental experts recommended limiting eggs to fewer than four per week to focus on whole grains, nuts and fruits. But previous studies have found a link between egg consumption and increased levels of “good” or HDL cholesterol.
This most recent study, published in JAMA, did not determine a cause and effect relationship but noted an association, which may have also been affected by the way in which the eggs were prepared. It also elicited the attention of the American Egg Board’s Egg Nutrition Center, according to HealthDay.
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“The inconsistency of this new study with that of other recent studies demonstrates the importance of additional research to further explore this rea, including the need to understand the unique contribution of eggs as part of healthy eating patterns set forth in the dietary guidelines for Americans,” Mickey Rubin, the board’s executive director, told HealthDay, in part.