Eating Eggs Daily May Not Be Risky for Heart
Eating Eggs Doesn't Raise Type of Cholesterol Tied to Heart Disease Risk
WebMD News Archive
July 8, 2004 -- Adding an egg here or there to your diet may
not raise your risk of heart disease even though it may raise your
"bad" LDL cholesterol levels, according to a new study.
LDL cholesterol is divided into several types. Researchers
found adding up to three eggs per day does raise some types of LDL cholesterol,
but it didn't significantly raise levels of the types of LDL known to clog
"We found that the dietary cholesterol in eggs does raise
the LDL-1 and LDL-2 [types] but it does not impact the small, dense LDL-3
through LDL-7 particles that are the greatest threat for cardiovascular disease
risk," says researcher Maria Luz Fernandez, PhD, of the University of
Connecticut, in a news release.
Fernandez says the findings may help explain why previous
studies haven't shown a consistent relationship between increases in LDL
cholesterol levels, such as those associated with eating eggs, and an
increasing risk of heart disease.
Eggs' Effect on LDL Cholesterol
In the past decade, research has shown that LDL cholesterol
particles vary with respect to their potential to clog arteries and cause heart
disease. The particles have been classified according to their size and
density, from LDL-1 to LDL-7, with LDL-1 being the largest and LDL-7 being the
smallest in diameter.
Researchers say that having predominantly smaller, dense LDL
particles (greater than LDL-3) is considered to be more dangerous to heart
disease-related health than having mostly larger, more buoyant particles.
In this study, researchers examined the effects of adding the
liquid equivalent of three whole eggs per day or a cholesterol-free, fat-free
substitute to the diets of about 50 men and premenopausal women for 30 days. A
large egg contains about 213 mg of cholesterol.
The study showed that eating the additional cholesterol
contained in the eggs increased the proportion of large, LDL particles but did
not significantly increase the proportion of the more dangerous, smaller
"We also found that egg cholesterol did not impact the
small, dense LDL particles among a sub-set of participants who were generally
predisposed to being most sensitive to dietary cholesterol," says
But the study also showed that men had a higher concentration
of the more harmful, small LDL particles than women regardless of the diet they
The study appears in the June issue of the journal
Metabolism and was supported by the American Egg Board and the
University of Connecticut Research Foundation.