EATING just one egg a day significantly raises the risk of heart disease and early death, according to a major study.
NHS advice says Brits can eat as many as they like as part of a balanced diet.
But US experts now advise to keep consumption to “moderate” levels.
Eating an egg a day raised a person’s chance of heart disease by 12 per cent and dying young by 16 per cent.
Everything in moderation
Researchers said high levels of cholesterol in yolks were to blame – with raised readings increasing risk of serious heart problems.
Scientists at Northwestern University in Chicago followed nearly 30,000 U.S. adults for over three decades.
Researcher Norrina Allen said: “Eat them [eggs] in moderation.
“Our study showed if two people had exact same diet and the only difference in diet was eggs, then you could directly measure the effect of the egg consumption on heart disease.
“We found cholesterol, regardless of the source, was associated with an increased risk of heart disease.”
Yolks to blame
The study, published in the journal JAMA, warns egg yolks are among the most cholesterol-rich foods.
Previous research has found eating a daily egg cuts stroke risk by up to 26 per cent.
Although eggs are high in cholesterol, experts claim other compounds in them may boost heart health.
And high levels of protein may help people feel fuller for longer, meaning they do not overeat and pile on pounds.
Professor Tom Sanders, Emeritus Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London, said Brits should not be too concerned about their egg consumption.
He said the average UK adult eats around three a week.
Prof Sanders said: “Dietary cholesterol has a small effect on blood cholesterol concentrations.
“The take home message… is that a typical USA diet -which contains lots of meat and plenty of eggs – is associated with poor cardiovascular health.
“However, this finding is only relevant to the USA diet, and not to the UK diet.
“Eggs in moderation – around 3 to 4 per week – is fine, and that is what current UK dietary guidelines say.”
Eggs are nutritious
And Victoria Taylor, senior dietitian at the British Heart Foundation agreed.
She said eating a healthy diet is all about balance.
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“If you’re eating too much of one thing it leaves less room for other foods that may have more health benefit,” she said.
“Eggs are a nutritious food and, while this study focuses on the amount we’re eating, it’s just as important to pay attention to how the eggs are cooked and to the trimmings that come with them.
“For example, poached eggs on wholegrain toast is a much healthier meal than a traditional fry up.”
She added: “There has been much debate about the role of eggs in relation to heart and circulatory disease.
“This study suggests that people who eat more eggs are at a greater risk of heart disease because of the cholesterol that’s in them.
“But this type of study can only show an association, rather than cause and effect, and more research is needed for us to understand the reasons behind this link.”
Dr Juliet Gray, a nutritionist from the British Egg Industry Council, challenged the study.
She said: “The findings are inconsistent with the considerable weight of evidence from previous, robust, research showing an egg a day has no clinically significant effects on LDL (harmful) cholesterol in most people.”
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