At one time, eating eggs was considered bad for the heart and circulation. This was all based on an assumption that saturated fat was bad. Newer understandings suggest it’s excess sugar that is worse for long-term health.
Any associations between total saturated fat intake, heart disease, and blood pressure come down to what people weren’t eating (for example, fruit, vegetables, fish) rather than their high saturated-fat diet per se.
The total fat content of even a large hen’s egg (weighing 1.76 ounces) isn’t high at around 5 grams.
Of this, just 1.5 grams (30 percent) is in the form of saturated fat.
The remainder is in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (51 percent) or polyunsaturated fats.
A large analysis of 17 studies, involving almost 264,000 people, confirmed that eating up to seven eggs a week does not increase the risk of coronary heart disease or stroke—even if your cholesterol level is raised.
And if you have Type 2 diabetes, the DIABEGG study concluded that you can safely include as much as two eggs a day, six days a week.
Eggs Protect Against Hypertension
Now a study shows that eating eggs has beneficial effects on blood pressure, too. A total of 1,152 healthy volunteers, aged 20 to 84, had their usual dietary intake assessed, their blood pressures measured, and were then followed for three years.
During the follow-up period, 12.5 percent of participants developed hypertension (which, apart from anything else, shows how important it is to check your blood pressure annually—it can and does change).
When the diets of those who developed high blood pressure were analyzed, the most significant finding was that those who ate the most eggs were more likely to remain within the normal blood pressure range. Those in the top third of egg eaters were 46 percent less likely to develop hypertension than those in the bottom third who ate few, if any eggs.
Why Are Eggs Protective?
Eggs are a nutrient-dense source of antioxidants, lecithin, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins (vitamins A, D, B2, B6, B12, and folate), and minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and zinc), which together have beneficial effects on the circulation—including cholesterol balance and blood pressure regulation.
Although eggs contain a small amount of sodium (70 milligrams per egg), this is counterbalanced by an equal amount of potassium to help flush this through the kidneys to prevent fluid retention.
Eggs are also a protein-rich food that is filling, so that after eating an egg, your appetite reduces, and you tend to eat less later in the day. This helps with weight management, too.
The other good news is that runny eggs are also back on the menu, as long as they are produced from flocks that have strict Salmonella vaccination and screening programs in place.
Do you eat eggs, or has your doctor advised you to cut back on them? If so, you might want to have another chat (and direct your doctor toward my website). Evidence is mounting that eggs are a nutritionally desirable food, whether you have hypertension or not.
Dr. Sarah Brewer is a medical nutritionist, nutritional therapist, and the author of more than 60 popular health books.This article was originally published on MyLowerBloodPressure.com Twitter: @DrSarahBHealthy