Photo by Katherine Tallmadge
Fried Eggs
Fried Eggs

The media thrives on hype and its latest target is the egg, a low calorie, inexpensive, source of protein and hard-to-get nutrients.* It is now being blamed for heart attacks and premature death.

Happily, the overwhelming evidence from many well-respected studies show that it is ok to eat an egg.

The media has focused on a single new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that concluded: "Among US adults, higher consumption of dietary cholesterol or eggs was significantly associated with higher risk of incident CVD [cardiovascular - heart - disease] and all-cause mortality [all causes of death] in a dose-response manner."

However, a well-regarded  review of 17 studies found that: "Higher consumption of eggs (up to one egg per day) is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke."

Further, the recent JAMA study has been criticized for its weak design. Indeed, the authors admitted that they could not rule out other foods or lifestyle issues causing the spike in CVD and death rates. For instance, did the subjects eat eggs with buttered white toast or bacon, as people often do? If so, there is a large body of evidence showing that buttered white bread or bacon would be the more likely offenders in spiking CVD or early death.

JAMA study results stated that there is this flaw. It said: "The associations between egg consumption and incident CVD ... and all-cause mortality ... were no longer significant after adjusting for dietary cholesterol consumption.

In other words, eggs may have had little or nothing to do with increasing CVD risk, while cholesterol may have.

Besides the admitted weakness, in the JAMA study, there are other unanswered questions:

Did the researchers analyze red meat intake? It is well-established that red meat is associated with increased CVD risk and all causes of death, and red meat happens to be high in cholesterol. Could the cholesterol in red meat have been responsible? The JAMA researchers said themselves that they could not tease out all factors leading to the increased CVD and death rates they observed.

Did they analyze saturated fat content? Saturated fat is a more established culprit behind heart disease, according to a Harvard study (among many others) and the American Heart Association.

Cholesterol is in all animal foods. And, we know that foods like red meat are strongly linked to CVD and all causes of death - and are also high in saturated fat.

In short, the JAMA study did not shed any further light on what foods are responsible for increased CVD. While any number of well-respected studies show that it is ok to eat an egg.

* Here are some ways you may benefit from eating eggs...

Protein. Eggs are considered the gold standard against which other proteins are measured. Because of the superior amino acid mix, an egg’s seven grams of protein are absorbed easily and efficiently used by the body. The egg is also low-calorie (74 calories).

Choline. Yolks are one of the best sources of this essential nutrient. Choline is needed for brain development in a growing fetus and may also be important for brain function in adults.

Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These two, important, beneficial nutrients found in egg yolks (as well as kale and spinach) help prevent eye diseases, especially cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. While eggs contain less lutein and zeaxanthin than greens, they are more absorbable because of the presence of fat in the yolk.

Vitamin D. Eggs are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D, important for the bones, teeth, and possibly reductions in heart disease, cancer and a myriad of other diseases.