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Eggs - Not Bad for Cholesterol Levels After All?

For many years those considered at risk of heart disease have been advised to avoid eggs. The yolk contains naturally occurring cholesterol, and it was assumed that consuming eggs would result in a rise in blood cholesterol levels. There has, however, never been a serious study of the truth of this assumption. It is therefore interesting that recent research has indicated that dietary cholesterol may not be as important as previously thought.

 
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A research team from the University of Surrey headed by Dr Bruce Griffin fed two eggs per day to overweight but otherwise healthy volunteers for 12 weeks. They simultaneously followed a reduced calorie diet prescribed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) – who normally restrict egg intake to 3-4 per week. A control group followed the same BHF diet but cut out eggs altogether.

Both groups lost between 3 to 4kg (7- 9lbs) in weight and saw a fall in the average level of blood cholesterol.

 
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Research leader Dr Bruce Griffin stated: "When blood cholesterol was measured at both six weeks and twelve weeks, both groups showed either no change or a reduction, particularly in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, despite the egg group increasing their dietary cholesterol intake to around four times that of the control."

This research provides further evidence to support the now established scientific understanding that saturated fat in the diet (most often found in pastry, processed meats, biscuits and cakes) is more responsible for raising blood cholesterol than cholesterol-rich foods, such as eggs.

 
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As a nation, we currently eat 28 million eggs a day; between two and three per person per week – one of the lowest intakes in the world. Neither the Food Standards Agency nor the British Dietetic Association places any recommendation on the number of eggs we should eat in a week but many health care professionals are still giving out-of-date advice to cut back on eggs.

Nutritionists are now calling for health care professionals to revise their recommendations to mirror the findings of the most recently published research.

 
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Dr Griffin continued: "There is no convincing evidence to link an increased intake of dietary cholesterol or eggs with coronary heart disease through raised blood cholesterol. Indeed, eggs make a nutritional contribution to a healthy, calorie-restricted diet. We have shown that when two eggs a day are eaten by people who are actively losing weight on a calorie-restricted diet, blood cholesterol can still be reduced."

Provided by University of Surrey

Our comment: Great news for omelette lovers! However, this advice is not necessarily relevant to sufferers of genetic hyper-cholesterol disorders - discuss this with your GP first.

 
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