Adults who ate about 1 ½ eggs daily had a slightly higher risk of heart disease than those who ate no eggs. The study showed the more eggs, the greater the risk. The chances of dying early were also elevated.
The researchers say the culprit is cholesterol, found in egg yolks and other foods, including shellfish, dairy products and red meat. The study focused on eggs because they’re among the most commonly eaten cholesterol-rich foods. They can still be part of a healthy diet, but in smaller quantities than many Americans have gotten used to, the researchers say.
U.S. dietary guidelines that eased limits on cholesterol have helped eggs make a comeback.
The study has limitations and contradicts recent research, but is likely to rekindle the long-standing debate about eggs.
The new results were published online Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and elsewhere pooled results from six previous studies, analyzing data on almost 30,000 U.S. adults who self-reported daily food intake. Participants were followed for roughly 17 years, on average.
The researchers calculated that those who ate 300 milligrams of cholesterol daily — about 1 ½ eggs — were 17 percent more likely to develop heart disease than whose who didn’t eat eggs.
The researchers based their conclusions on what participants said they ate at the start of each study. They took into account high blood pressure, smoking, obesity and other traits that could contribute to heart problems. Risks were found with eggs and cholesterol in general; a separate analysis was not done for every cholesterol-rich food.
Dr. Bruce Lee of Johns Hopkins University, said nutrition studies are often weak because they rely on people remembering what they ate.
“We know that…