Consuming one egg a day is not linked to an elevated risk of having a stroke, according to research carried out in Scandinavia.
The research also found no link in carriers of the APOE4 phenotype, which affects cholesterol metabolism and is remarkably common in the Finnish population. Findings from earlier studies addressing the association of dietary cholesterol or egg intake with the risk of stroke have in recent times been contradictory. A study involving 30,000 people published in March in the United States found those averaging two eggs a day had their risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular episodes rise by 27%, and of dying from any cause rise by 34%.
But the new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that neither egg consumption nor dietary cholesterol are associated with an increased stroke risk.
The analysis, carried out by the University of Eastern Finland, used health and diet data from 1,950 men aged between 42 and 60 with no baseline diagnosis of a cardiovascular disease. Over 21 years of follow-up, there were 217 strokes.
On average, the men ate about four and half eggs a week and consumed 408 milligrams of cholesterol a day. After looking at other behavioural and health issues, the researchers found no difference in the risk between a man who averaged less than two eggs a week and one who ate more than six.
The outcomes of the study suggest moderate cholesterol intake or daily egg consumption are not connected with the risk of stroke, even in people who are genetically predisposed to a more significant consequence of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol levels.
In the highest control group had an average daily dietary cholesterol intake of 520mg and they consumed an average of an egg a day, which, say the scientists, mean that the findings cannot be generalised beyond these levels.
One egg contains approximately 200mg of cholesterol and in the study, about a fourth of the total cholesterol consumed came from eggs.
The study stresses that researchers only looked at people with no pre-existing cardiovascular disease at baseline and the size of the population study was relatively small. They urged that the study should be verified in a larger cohort as well as people with pre-existing cardiovascular disease, who are currently advised to limit their intake of cholesterol and eggs.
Lead author Jyrki Virtanen, an adjunct professor of epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland, told the New York Times, that eating eggs in moderation was acceptable.
“For healthy people without heart problems or diabetes, up to one egg a day should be ok,” he said.
The study follows the publication of a report from Oxford University, UK, which analysed data from over 400,000 men and women in Europe over 12 years, and found a small but statistically significant decrease in risk for ischemic heart disease with every 20 gram increment of egg intake (about half an egg). That report, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found similar favourable results for yoghurt and cheese consumption, while consumption of red and processed meats were associated with an increased risk for heart disease.