The myth goes: if you eat more than one egg a day, your cholesterol will get out of control and you’ll end up with heart problems. This is one of those stories that’s based on a combination of old science and wives tales, which never quite caught up with the new science and the facts. So, while me saying a thing doesn’t draw any official lines under this myth for good, those of you reading this with enough sense to check for yourselves will walk away sure in the knowledge that you can eat eggs if you want to.
There is nothing wrong with eating more than seven eggs a week, if you’re an otherwise healthy individual.
A 2017 study into the effects of eating two eggs a day on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease risk found no negative effects on cholesterol in healthy individuals eating 14 eggs a week – twice the amount the myth claims is the limit. The researchers also tested the effects on satiety of eating eggs.
Fifty healthy participants were split into two groups: one ate two eggs a day for breakfast, while the other ate one packet of oatmeal. The groups stuck to this breakfast diet for four weeks and were then given a three week flush out period before switching to the other group and repeating the cycle. Samples were taken at the end of each intervention period to assess plasma lipids and plasma ghrelin (fat and the hunger hormone). Participants were also asked to self-assess satiety and hunger levels.
There was no difference in the lipoprotein (LDL) / high-density lipoprotein (HDL) ratio – a recognised biomarker of cardiovascular disease risk; nor the plasma, glucose, triglycerides or liver enzymes, between diet periods.
Those who ate the eggs for breakfast resulted in a higher consumption of protein overall throughout the day compared to the oatmeal group, whilst also achieving a decrease in overall calorie consumption. The egg group reported feeling more satiated than the oatmeal group.
What this means:
Eating eggs for breakfast doesn’t have adverse affects on the biomarkers associated with heart disease risk but do increase satiety – meaning you’ll be less hungry after eating two eggs than you will after eating oatmeal. The myth says eating too many eggs will send your cholesterol levels through the roof and cause heart problems – but the evidence just doesn’t support this story.
The people eating eggs for breakfast ended up eating fewer calories throughout the day, because they weren’t as hungry as the oatmeal group, and more protein over all. Eating more protein is known to decrease hunger, which means it makes sense in terms of dieting.
But it’s not just this one study that says eggs are safe. A 2013 study by Ying Rong et al looked at 17 different studies looking at the effects of egg consumption a found higher consumption of eggs was not associated with coronary heart disease. The meta-analysis focusses on studies testing one egg a day though, so we don’t know what happens if you eat three a day – but I’m willing to assume you’re going to be alright so long as your overall fat for the day doesn’t send you over your calorie allowance.
Moral of the story: don’t be afraid of those 2+ egg omelettes.