An egg a day may keep the heart doctor away. That’s the conclusion of researchers who recently published a study in eLife journal.
These new findings follow in the footsteps of a 2018 trial in Heart that involved more than half a million Chinese adults. They found that eating approximately one egg per day was correlated with a significant reduction in heart disease and stroke risk compared to those who ate fewer eggs. After those results, researchers wanted to delve deeper into the egg-heart connection.
For the new study, the medical team recruited 4,778 adults from the China Kadoorie Biobank project: 3,401 had existing heart disease, while 1,377 did not. Using Targeted Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, more than 200 metabolites were measured from subjects’ plasma samples, and 24 were linked with levels of egg intake. And of the 24 markers, 14 were associated with cardiovascular disease risk (CVD).
The Study Results
Participants who consumed a moderate amount of eggs exhibited higher levels of apolipoprotein A1, a protein related to high-density lipoprotein (HDL). Most notably, these people had an increased number of the “bigger” HDL molecules in their blood — this is a good thing because these molecules aid in the removal of cholesterol from blood vessels, helping to prevent blockages. The researchers also discovered that subjects who ate fewer eggs had fewer beneficial metabolites and more harmful ones in their blood than those who regularly consumed eggs.
“The debate over egg consumption centered on its effect on cholesterol metabolism. In our study, there was no significant association between egg consumption and lipoprotein in other sizes or densities except small VLDL, very large, and large HDL. To some extent, this reflected the balance between dietary cholesterol absorption and endogenous cholesterol biosynthesis, which accounts for about 25% and 75%, respectively, varying with different food consumption habits,” say the researchers.
A Nutrient-Dense Protein
Eggs are one of the richest sources of dietary cholesterol, but they also contain a wide variety of essential nutrients and bioactive compounds, such as high-quality protein, fat-soluble and B vitamins, phospholipids, and choline.
This study set in the Chinese population found significant associations between egg consumption and acetate, lipid-related metabolites within very large and large HDL and small VLDL, and found that these associations were directionally opposite to associations between these metabolites and risk of CVD. These results we reported not only potentially reveal at the small molecule level that lipid metabolism metabolites may play a role in the beneficial effects of egg consumption on CVD, but also provide Chinese population-based evidence for the formulation of strategies and policies to encourage moderate egg consumption.