VIDEO: Limits on egg consumption lifted

GMTV’s resident health expert Hilary Jones has teamed up with researchers and health professionals to highlight a new research paper that finally dispels the myth that consumers should limit themselves to three eggs a week.

Speaking at a press briefing held at the Society of Medicine in London, Dr Jones stressed that bad science carried out in the 1970s had led to the wrong advice.

“The message that high cholesterol levels in blood leads to coronary heart disease was right. But the advice was only half right. What they got wrong was the link between dietary intake of cholesterol and heart disease.”

Also at the briefing was Bruce Griffin from the University of Surrey, who co-wrote the research paper published this week in the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin.

He said: “Later studies have been able to separate the cholesterol-raising effects of dietary cholesterol from saturated fat, which often exist together in the same foods. Consequently, it is saturated fat, not the cholesterol found in foods like eggs, that is the main dietary ‘culprit’ in raising blood cholesterol levels.”

This mounting evidence that there is no link between eating eggs and heart disease has led to world and UK health organisations revising their guidance over the past few years. This includes the British Heart Foundation, which last year dispensed with its recommendation limiting eggs to 3-4 a week, except for the one in 500 people who had a genetic propensity to high cholesterol.

The Food Standards Agency also advises that most people don’t need to limit how many eggs they have, if they are eating a balanced diet. The American Heart Association has also removed specific reference to eggs in their dietary recommendations for heart health.

But despite the changes in advice, figures revealed in Prof Griffin’s paper show that nearly half of the public still believe they should be eating a maximum of three eggs a week.

Dr Jones commented: “There is so much confusion surrounding dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Many people think that simply cutting out dietary cholesterol by avoiding foods like eggs is an easy way to reduce heart disease risk. But this ignores the most important dietary risk factor cutting down on saturated fat is much more critical.”

He added: “The number of my GP colleagues that still believe in these myths is alarming. We have a real job to educate the public to the benefits of eating eggs.

“It really is OK to go to work on an egg,” he concluded.

Commenting on the paper, The Ulster Farmers’ Union poultry vice-chairman John McClenaghan said: “This report is good news for the egg industry.

“In the past it has been suggested that egg consumption was linked to coronary problems. But this report highlights that the cholesterol in eggs has only a small and clinically insignificant effect on blood cholesterol and that there should be no recommended limit on weekly egg consumption for most people.”

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