Eggs & cholesterol: debate continues
In response to a new study published in PLOS Medicine on egg and cholesterol consumption and mortality, Australian Eggs is urging caution in how the study findings should be interpreted by Australian consumers and health care professionals.
Accredited Practicing Dietitian Sharon Natoli says that, while the study was conducted over a long period of time and included a large sample size, the observational nature of the results isn’t able to confirm a causal relationship between eggs, cholesterol and mortality.
“People consume a wide variety of foods and make a myriad of lifestyle choices that influence health,” Natoli says. “Observational studies investigating relationships between individual foods and health outcomes provide important insights, but other factors that influence the relationship can never be completely controlled for in this type of analysis.”
You must be yolking
Recent evidence from an observational study published in May 2020 found no significant association between eggs and all-cause or heart disease mortality in a representative sample of adults. These divergent findings indicate a need for further research.
In this new study, researchers point to the cholesterol content of eggs (found in the yolk) as the culprit for the link with mortality. They suggest replacing whole eggs with egg whites or substitutes. But this recommendation is not supported by an extensive body of research.
“It’s vital to remember that egg yolks are an important part of the whole egg,” Natoli says. “They contain key essential nutrients, including vitamin D. They also contain the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for eye health. Eggs are a nutrient-dense whole food. People can feel reassured about eating them as part of a healthy, balanced diet that’s consistent with recommendations in the Australian Dietary Guidelines.”