Colorado Egg Producers

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Heart Healthy: The Benefits of Eggs and the Truth About Cholesterol

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Retail store fronts have been awash in shades of pink and red since mid January, stocked to the hilt with heart shaped candy boxes and long stem red roses. Valentine’s day is a time when we open our hearts and celebrate our love and affection for one another. No matter how expensive or lavish our gifts of affection are, however, the real question is whether or not our hearts will stay healthy enough to live long after the flowers and chocolate are gone. In honor of Valentine’s Day and National Heart Month, the Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association wants you to take this February to reflect about one’s heart and make a conscious decision to keep it healthy.

“As local egg farmers, we have long emphasized the functional and nutritional values of eggs,” said Mike O’Connor, a Colorado egg farmer and member of the CEP. “New research and dietary guidelines reinforce this, showing that eggs are an important part of a low calorie, nutrient dense and balanced diet.”

Just in time for Valentine’s Day and heart health month, CEP is pleased to report that eggs are included on the new 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans list of foods and nutrients to increase. The new guidelines, released on January 31, 2011, focus on balancing calories with physical activity, and encourage Americans to consume more healthy foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products as well as seafood and eggs, and to consume less sodium, saturated and trans fats, added sugars and refined grains.

In addition, new nutrition data from the United States Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), shows eggs are now naturally lower in cholesterol than previously thought. The USDA-ARS recently reviewed the nutrient composition of standard large eggs, and results show that the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than previously recorded and well within the 300mg recommended daily value of cholesterol. The analysis also revealed that large eggs now contain 41 IU of vitamin D, an increase of 64 percent.

More than 40 years of research has shown that healthy adults, as part of a well balanced diet, can eat eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease. Below is a snapshot of the research over the years, courtesy of the American Egg Board.

• A 2008 study from Surrey University published in the European Journal of Nutrition provides evidence that increasing dietary cholesterol intake by eating two eggs a day does not increase total plasma cholesterol when accompanied by moderate weight loss. The study authors concluded that cholesterol-rich foods should not be excluded from dietary advice for weight loss.
• A 2007 study of 9,500 people reported in Medical Science Monitor showed that eating one or two eggs a day did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke among healthy adults. The study noted that eating eggs might actually be associated with a decrease in blood pressure.
• A study presented at the Experimental Biology conference in 2007 showed that egg consumption contributed less than one percent of the risk for heart disease when other adjustable risk factors were taken into account. The researchers concluded that wide-sweeping recommendations to limit egg consumption might be misguided, particularly when eggs' nutritional contributions are considered.
• In 2006, Nutrition Bulletin published a review of scientific studies from the past 30 years showing that eating eggs daily does not have a significant impact on blood cholesterol or heart disease risk. The authors noted several benefits of egg consumption — including the high-quality protein eggs provide — and argued that consumption of one to two eggs a day should be actively encouraged as part of a calorie-restricted weight-loss plan.
• A six-week study conducted by researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center in 2005 showed that adding two eggs a day to a healthful diet did not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels in young or middle-aged men and women with normal or even moderately elevated blood cholesterol levels.
• A review of more than 25 studies that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2000 showed that eating an egg a day isn't associated with increased risk of heart disease in healthy men and women, even after taking into account other aspects of their diet that may increase the risk for heart disease.
• A 1999 Harvard University study that collected data from more than 100,000 men and women found no significant difference in heart disease risk between healthy adults who ate less than one egg a week and those who ate more than one egg a day, and that eating up to one egg a day is unlikely to have a significant overall impact on the risk of heart disease or stroke.
 

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