Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the United States and it affects men and women of all ages. The Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association writes to us about how you can be good to your heart with all of the heart healthy benefits of eggs.

When we think about healthy eating our minds may wander to foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains. But what about eggs? Eggs, which are packed with nutrition, are often overlooked.

As local egg farmers, we try to teach our fellow Coloradans about the functional and nutritional values of eggs. For a long time people were afraid that eggs increased cholesterol and hurt heart health, but research has shown that they actually have the opposite effect. Backed by more than 40 years of research and recommended in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, eggs are an important part of a well balanced diet and a healthy heart.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recently announced changes in the way we should manage our cholesterol to fight heart disease and stroke. Rather than focus on numbers and daily cholesterol allotments, the organizations recommend that people get a medical assessment, discuss the results with a doctor then formulate a personal 10-year plan for optimal heart health. Eggs aren’t as high in cholesterol as previously thought – the average amount of cholesterol in one large egg is 185 mg, 14 percent lower than previously recorded – so they likely fit well into many people’s meal plans.

Research shows that healthy adults, as part of a well balanced diet, can eat eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease. Courtesy of the American Egg Board, here is a snapshot of the heart healthy benefits of eggs based research over the last 40 years:

• A review of more than 25 studies that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2000 showed that eating an egg a day isn’t associated with increased risk of heart disease in healthy men and women, even after taking into account other aspects of their diet that may increase the risk for heart disease.

• A 2007 study of 9,500 people reported in Medical Science Monitor showed that eating one or two eggs a day did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke among healthy adults. The study noted that eating eggs might actually be associated with a decrease in blood pressure.

• In 2006, Nutrition Bulletin published a review of scientific studies from the past 30 years showing that eating eggs daily does not have a significant impact on blood cholesterol or heart disease risk. The authors noted several benefits of egg consumption — including the high-quality protein eggs provide — and argued that consumption of one to two eggs a day should be actively encouraged as part of a calorie-restricted weight-loss plan.

• A six-week study conducted by researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center in 2005 showed that adding two eggs a day to a healthful diet did not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels in young or middle-aged men and women with normal or even moderately elevated blood cholesterol levels.

• A 1999 Harvard University study that collected data from more than 100,000 men and women found no significant difference in heart disease risk between healthy adults who ate less than one egg a week and those who ate more than one egg a day, and that eating up to one egg a day is unlikely to have a significant overall impact on the risk of heart disease or stroke.

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