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What about eggs?

Oh, how I love an egg for breakfast, lunch or dinner! I love eggs so much I have four chickens in my back yard producing the most fresh and tasty eggs on the planet. However, this recent article in JAMA provided yet another twist in the long saga of whether or not eating eggs raises cholesterol and/or the risk of heart disease.

I think of eggs as being a great package of protein, healthy fats and vital nutrients (vitamin D, riboflavin and selenium, to name a few). However, eggs contain dietary cholesterol. Now, eating cholesterol in your diet does not necessarily directly raise cholesterol in your blood stream, but for years the guideline was to minimize dietary cholesterol to prevent high cholesterol and heart disease.

But, more recently, studies have been conducted that indicating that even eating 2 eggs daily is not only NOT dangerous for heart health but may actually lower triglycerides. Hooray, eggs are healthy! At least, so we thought until the above JAMA study came out, which followed dietary habits in almost 30,000 people and found that those who ate 3 or more eggs per week had a 6% increase in cardiovascular disease. So what gives, how can we have such differing studies?

First, it is known that a small group of people are hyper-responders to dietary cholesterol, meaning that if their bad cholesterol will increase like crazy when they consume cholesterol in the diet. Most people don't have this problem. Second, the way this study was conducted was just to follow thousands of people over the years, rather than to intervene and change their diet. So we don't know if the people eating eggs may have also been eating bacon or sausage every day with those eggs. Maybe those eggs were in an Egg McMuffin!

The bottom line is, eggs are a perfectly safe, delicious and nutritious - IF the rest of your diet is heart-healthy. I recommend a Mediterranean-style diet which includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains and legumes, a little dairy (yogurt) and emphasises fish and chicken over beef and pork. And get your exercise! And then happily enjoy your delicious and nutritious eggs - (but maybe not in a fast food breakfast sandwich) :).

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