For many years, health experts stuck to guidelines that warned us to limit how many eggs we eat because of the amount of dietary cholesterol in the yolks. But, eggs pack in plenty of nutrients (including protein and choline) that benefit your body — so what's the verdict on this tasty breakfast food?
It isn't always easy to figure out how many eggs are safe to eat if you're whipping up an omelet or scramble on the daily. The overall composition of your diet may be more important than how many eggs you eat when determining your risk for disease.
Most people can safely eat one egg a day without adverse health effects. However, if you have diabetes or high cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor for specific recommendations.
Eggs and Heart Disease Risk
One large egg has about 186 milligrams of dietary cholesterol, per the USDA. It was recommended that people limit their cholesterol intake to no more than 300 milligrams each day for quite a while, but the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee no longer makes this recommendation because of a lack of evidence around how dietary cholesterol affects your blood cholesterol levels.
In healthy people, eating as much as one egg per day doesn't increase the risk of heart disease or stroke, according to a review article published in the British Medical Journal in January 2013. People with diabetes, however, may experience an increased risk of heart disease if they eat an egg every day.
Meanwhile, a January 2020 meta-analysis of about 177,000 people found that eating one egg a day isn't associated with a higher risk of early death or getting heart disease in people with or without a history of type 2 diabetes or heart disease, per the research in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September 2015 had slightly different results, showing no increased risk of stroke or heart attack when at least one egg a day was eaten, but showing an increased risk for heart failure in men — but not women — at this rate of consumption.
Read more: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
Eggs and Diabetes Risk
Research looking at the link between eggs and diabetes risk is conflicting. Although a meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in July 2013 found that eating eggs didn't increase the risk for heart disease in healthy people, it did find a potential increased risk for type 2 diabetes for those who ate at least one egg per day.
An older analysis, published in Diabetes Care in February 2009, found a slightly increased risk for diabetes even at lower levels of consumption than one egg per day in both men and women. On the other hand, a systematic review reported some types of diets that include eggs could lower the risk for both metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes, per March 2014 research published in Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy.
Eggs and Overall Mortality Risk
While a 2008 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that egg consumption wasn't associated with the risk of heart disease, it did find that people who ate seven or more eggs per week had a slightly higher mortality risk. In people with diabetes, this mortality risk was twice as high in those who ate seven or more eggs per week as compared to those who ate less than one egg per week.
However, the January 2020 study did not find a link between eating an egg a day and mortality risk for people with (and without) a history of diabetes or heart disease.
So, Should You Eat Eggs Every Day?
The most current research points to findings that eating one egg per day shouldn't come with any adverse side effects. In fact, eggs can be a healthy part of a balanced diet.
A study published in the journal Metabolism in March 2013 noted that people with metabolic syndrome showed improvements to their cholesterol levels and experienced less insulin resistance when they ate a whole egg each day as part of a diet that contained no more than 30 percent of energy from carbohydrates.
Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition in February 2011, found that people with type 2 diabetes who ate two eggs per day had greater improvements in cholesterol than people who ate 3.5 ounces of lean protein instead of eggs and also improved blood pressure and blood sugar control and lost weight. Both groups followed a reduced-calorie diet, getting 40 percent of their daily calories from carbohydrates and 30 percent of calories from each protein and fat.
These results seem to back up the recommendation of a review article published in the journal Nutrients in September 2015, which noted that egg consumption can't be taken into consideration alone — it is the entire diet that needs to be taken into account.
If you want to eat more than one egg per day, try a mix of whole eggs and egg whites to lower any potential risks, as the cholesterol in the yolk is thought to be responsible for any increased health risks from eating eggs.
- Metabolism: "Whole Egg Consumption Improves Lipoprotein Profiles and Insulin Sensitivity to a Greater Extent Than Yolk-Free Egg Substitute in Individuals With Metabolic Syndrome"
- British Medical Journal: "Egg Consumption and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease and Stroke: Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Egg Consumption in Relation to Risk of Cardiovascular Disease and Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis"
- Diabetes Care: "Egg Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in Men and Women"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Egg Consumption in Relation to Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality: The Physicians’ Health Study"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Egg Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure, Myocardial Infarction, and Stroke: Results From 2 Prospective Cohorts"
- Nutrients: "Egg Consumption and Human Cardio-Metabolic Health in People With and Without Diabetes"
- British Journal of Nutrition: "Egg Consumption as Part of an Energy-Restricted High-Protein Diet Improves Blood Lipid and Blood Glucose Profiles in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes"
- Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: "Targets and Therapy: Egg Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease Among Diabetic Individuals: A Systematic Review of the Literature"
- USDA: "Egg, whole, raw, fresh"
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: "Association of egg intake with blood lipids, cardiovascular disease, and mortality in 177,000 people in 50 countries"
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh