Cholesterol in Eggs May Not Hurt Heart Health: Study
Research also finds other dietary cholesterol doesn't appear to up heart disease risk
By Alan Mozes
TUESDAY, Feb. 16, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- The once-maligned egg may not be a heartbreaker after all, new research suggests.
Finnish researchers say that even carriers of a gene -- called APOE4 -- that increases sensitivity to dietary cholesterol don't seem to have anything to fear when it comes to the impact of eggs, or any other dietary cholesterol, on heart health.
The findings followed the 20-year plus tracking of dietary habits among more than 1,000 middle-aged Finnish men. All were heart healthy at the study's start, and about a third carried the APOE4 gene, the researchers said.
"It is quite well known that dietary cholesterol intake has quite a modest impact on blood cholesterol levels, and cholesterol or egg intakes have not been associated with a higher risk of heart disease in most studies," said study author Jyrki Virtanen. He is an adjunct professor in nutritional epidemiology with the University of Eastern Finland Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition in Kuopio, Finland.
"However, dietary cholesterol intake has a greater impact on blood cholesterol levels among those with [APOE4]," Virtanen added. "So it was assumed that cholesterol intake might have a stronger impact on heart disease risk among those people. However, our study did not find an increased risk even among those carrying [APOE4]."
Although the study didn't find a link between dietary cholesterol and adverse heart health, the study authors said they weren't able to prove that dietary cholesterol doesn't have a significant impact on cardiovascular disease. For example, one limitation of the study the authors noted was that they only collected dietary information at the start of the study, and had no way of knowing if people's diets changed over time.
Virtanen and his colleagues report their findings in the Feb. 10 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The University of Eastern Finland provided funding for the study, and Virtanen added that there was no funding from egg industry sources.
Finland has a higher-than-average number of APOE4 carriers, with about a third of the population affected, the researchers said. But little is known about whether or not dietary cholesterol intake might affect the hearts of people with the APOE4 gene, the study authors noted.