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 were not so much due to following a high saturated fat diet, but down to what people weren’t eating – their low intakes of fruit, vegetables and fish.
Eggs protect against high blood pressure
Researchers have now found that eating eggs has a beneficial effect on blood pressure. A total of 1,152 healthy volunteers, aged 20 to 84, had their usual dietary intake assessed and their blood pressure measured, and were then followed for 3 years.
During the follow-up period, 12.5% of participants developed hypertension which, apart from anything else, shows how important it is to check your blood pressure every year. Within a relatively short time it can go up to a level that needs treating.
When the diets of those who developed high blood pressure were analysed, 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% 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 (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate) and minerals (calcium, potassium, iron, phosphorus and zinc) which together have beneficial effects on the circulation – including cholesterol balance and blood pressure regulation.
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.
Evidence is mounting that eggs are a nutritionally desirable food, whether you have hypertension or not.
What’s in an egg?
The total fat content of even a large hen’s egg (weighing 50g) isn’t high at around 5g.
Of this, just 1.5g (30%) is in the form of saturated fat.
The remainder is in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (51%) 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.
Here is my full overview of how to follow a cholesterol-friendly diet.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is key to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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