An egg a day may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, a new study suggests.
Consumption of up to one egg daily was linked with lower rates of strokes and heart disease, according to the research published in journal Heart. Daily consumers also had a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease when compared to those who did not eat eggs.
The researchers, from Peking University Health Science Centre, examined data from 416,213 participants in China. At the start of the study, 13.1% of participants reported daily consumption of eggs and 9.1% said they never or rarely ate them.
The group were followed up around nine years later, with daily egg consumption found to be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease overall. Those who ate up to one a day had a 26% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke, 28% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke death and an 18% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, the study found.
There was also a 12% reduction in the risk of ischaemic heart disease, or coronary heart disease, in those consuming an estimated 5.32 eggs a week compared to those eating around two.
Haemorrhagic strokes, caused by bleeding in and around the brain, are less common than ischaemic strokes, which are the result of a blockage. But they have a higher prevalence rate in China than in high-income countries.
“This present study finds that there is an association between moderate level of egg consumption (up to one egg per day) and a lower cardiac event rate,” the authors wrote.
“Our findings contribute scientific evidence to the dietary guidelines with regard to egg consumption for the healthy Chinese adult.”
Previous studies examining the impact of eggs on health have been inconsistent and most have found insignificant associations between consumption and coronary heart disease or stroke.
Commenting on the findings, Tim Chico, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Sheffield, said: “It is very difficult to determine the part any single element of our diet plays in our risk of developing heart disease. “This study has shown that people who eat more eggs have lower rates of a range of diseases including heart attack and stroke. “It is important to stress that this does not prove that eating eggs protects against these diseases, as there may be other differences between the people eating more eggs that cause these differences.”
Professor Nita Forouhi, of the MRC epidemiology unit at the University of Cambridge, said: “The take home message of this research from a large study from China is that at the very least up to one egg a day is not linked with raised cardiovascular risk, and at best up to one egg a day may even have health benefits.
“The researchers accounted for many dietary and other behaviours in their analyses, but it is important to emphasise that eggs are not eaten in isolation, and overall healthy or unhealthy dietary patterns will always matter.”
Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation, said: “It’s possible that the lower risk of cardiovascular disease seen in those who consumed eggs on a daily basis may have been caused by something else in their diet or lifestyle – rather than a specific cause and effect.
“The study was also carried out on a middle-aged Chinese population so the results may not be directly applicable to a UK population. “However, these findings may be reassuring for people who like to ‘go to work on an egg’ and are consistent with current advice in the UK; that eggs can be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet.”