Eating eggs does not significantly raise the body's cholesterol levels, according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Surrey and published in the Nutrition Bulletin of the British Heart Foundation.
The researchers reviewed the results of several different studies on eggs and nutrition, concluding that eggs did not contribute significantly to the body's cholesterol levels. Although eggs are in fact a high-cholesterol food, the researchers note that only one-third of the body's cholesterol comes from dietary sources; the rest is produced by the body from saturated fats. As a consequence, saturated fat intake plays a far more significant role.
"The ingrained misconception linking egg consumption to high blood cholesterol and heart disease must be corrected," researcher Bruce Griffin said.
"The amount of saturated fat in our diet exerts an effect on blood cholesterol that is several times greater than the relatively small amounts of dietary cholesterol."The researchers note that other factors, such as obesity, a sedentary lifestyle or smoking also have greater effects on cholesterol levels or the risk of cardiovascular disease than egg consumption does.
"The UK public does not need to be limiting the number of eggs they eat," Griffin said.
"Indeed, they can be encouraged to include them in a healthy diet, as they are one of nature's most nutritionally dense foods."
Up until 2007, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommended that people limit their intake of eggs to three per week, as a way of reducing the risk of heart disease. That advice is now considered outdated, however.
"We recommend that eggs can be eaten as part of a balanced diet," said Victoria Taylor of the BHF.
"There is cholesterol present in eggs, but this does not usually make a great contribution to your level of blood cholesterol. If you need to reduce your cholesterol level, it is more important that you cut down on the amount of saturated fat in your diet from foods like fatty meat, full fat dairy products, and cakes, biscuits and pastries."