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Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations

Fernandez, Maria Luz

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care: January 2006 - Volume 9 - Issue 1 - p 8–12
Ageing: biology and nutrition

Purpose of review: Extensive research has not clearly established a link between egg consumption and risk for coronary heart disease. The effects of egg intake on plasma lipids and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) atherogenicity in healthy populations need to be addressed.

Recent findings: The lack of connection between heart disease and egg intake could partially be explained by the fact that dietary cholesterol increases the concentrations of both circulating LDL and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in those individuals who experience an increase in plasma cholesterol following egg consumption (hyperresponders). It is also important to note that 70% of the population experiences a mild increase or no alterations in plasma cholesterol concentrations when challenged with high amounts of dietary cholesterol (hyporesponders). Egg intake has been shown to promote the formation of large LDL, in addition to shifting individuals from the LDL pattern B to pattern A, which is less atherogenic. Eggs are also good sources of antioxidants known to protect the eye; therefore, increased plasma concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin in individuals consuming eggs are also of interest, especially in those populations susceptible to developing macular degeneration and eye cataracts.

Summary: For these reasons, dietary recommendations aimed at restricting egg consumption should not be generalized to include all individuals. We need to acknowledge that diverse healthy populations experience no risk in developing coronary heart disease by increasing their intake of cholesterol but, in contrast, they may have multiple beneficial effects by the inclusion of eggs in their regular diet.

Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence to Maria Luz Fernandez, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, 3624 Horsebarn Road Extension, Storrs, CT 06269, USA Tel: +1 860 486 5547; fax: +1 860 486 3674; e-mail: maria-luz.fernandez@uconn.edu

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.