Eggs: Friend or Foe?

Over the past 40 years, there has been significant debate about the nutritional value of eggs. In the 1970s, the public was told to reduce dietary cholesterol in order to reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Since eggs are the most concentrated source of dietary cholesterol, the public was cautioned against consuming more than 1 egg per day.

Soon, the association between dietary cholesterol and heart disease was questioned heavily, and research indicated that eggs were only harmful when consumed in large quantities, at more than 1 egg per day.

Fast forward 40 years. Eggs are now making a comeback as nutritious food once again. Current scientific opinion suggests that it is no longer necessary to limit dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day (the equivalent of about 1.5 eggs per day), because there is a weak association between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. In case you missed my previous article about this topic, click here to read it.

Egg Nutrition

In essence, there are two parts of an egg which are distinctly different from each other: the yolk and the white.

The yolk is a storehouse of cholesterol, saturated fat, vitamins and minerals. One egg yolk contains 55 calories 4.5 0 grams of total fat, 1.6 0 grams of saturated fat, 184 milligrams of cholesterol, and small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B6, Iron and vitamin B12.

The egg white is mainly a storehouse of protein. One egg white contains 17 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, zero 0 grams of carbohydrate, and about 4 grams of protein. In addition, the egg white contains no appreciable vitamins or minerals.

Egg-NutritionEggs and Organ Health

Are eggs safe or unsafe to eat? Most importantly, how do eggs affect your risk for long-term disease, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer?

In order to answer these questions, we turn to the research. Most importantly, we must evaluate eggs from multiple perspectives, rather than simply focusing only on the connection between egg consumption and heart disease.

All Cause Mortality
Findings from the 2008 Physicians Health Study found that consumption of more than one egg per day resulted in a 23% increase in the risk of death from any cause (1–3).

Adults with diabetes (type 1 or type 2) are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop heart disease or stroke than nondiabetic adults. The reason for this is simple: elevated blood glucose increases the risk for all forms of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack, stroke, angina, and coronary artery disease (4). The 2008 Physicians Health Study found that people with diabetes significantly elevate their risk for all cause mortality after eating about five eggs per week (1–3).

Arterial Plaque
Recent studies have linked egg consumption with an increase in arterial plaque. For this outcome, researchers found that three eggs per week significantly increased arterial plaque formation in carotid arteries (5), significantly elevating the risk for heart attack.

Prostate Cancer
Studies have also shown that eating more than 2.5 eggs per week increases the risk for the development of prostate cancer by more than 81% (6,7).

Colon Cancer
Overall analysis of more than 44 studies performed in over 400,000 subjects found that the risk for gastrointestinal cancers increased linearly with increasing egg consumption. The authors found that the strongest correlation was found between egg consumption and colon cancer. Specifically, eating more than 5 eggs per week increased colon cancer risk by 42% (8).

Research suggests that eggs promote the development of prostate cancer because they are high in cholesterol and choline (9–11).  Cholesterol is elevated in tumor cells in all tissues, and increased blood cholesterol influences the ability of tumor cells to replicate and migrate. In other words, increasing blood cholesterol promotes tumor growth and metastases (12–14).  Choline is also elevated in tumor cells, and is metabolized in the large intestine into pro-inflammatory compounds that may promote cancer development (15–17).


So How Many Eggs Are OK to Eat?

Given this research, my recommendation for egg consumption is to refute the message that eggs can be eaten liberally. The research strongly supports that the cholesterol, saturated fat and choline in eggs promotes disease, so my recommendation is to keep egg consumption to a minimum.


If you are currently living with diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer OR if your parents lived with diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer, limit your intake of eggs to less than 2 per week.

If you are an active individual with no family history of diabetes, cardiovascular disease or cancer, you can eat up to 3 eggs per week.



Show +

1. Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Apr;87(4):964–9.
2. Qureshi AI, Suri FK, Ahmed S, Nasar A, Divani AA, Kirmani JF. Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Med Sci Monit Int Med J Exp Clin Res. 2007 Jan;13(1):CR1–8.
3. Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Ascherio A, Colditz GA, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999 Apr 21;281(15):1387–94.
4. Nathan DM, Cleary PA, Backlund J-YC, Genuth SM, Lachin JM, Orchard TJ, et al. Intensive diabetes treatment and cardiovascular disease in patients with type 1 diabetes. N Engl J Med. 2005 Dec 22;353(25):2643–53.
5. Spence JD, Jenkins DJA, Davignon J. Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque. Atherosclerosis. 2012 Oct;224(2):469–73.
6. Snowdon DA, Phillips RL, Choi W. Diet, obesity, and risk of fatal prostate cancer. Am J Epidemiol. 1984 Aug;120(2):244–50.
7. Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Chan JM. Egg, red meat, and poultry intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer in the prostate-specific antigen-era: incidence and survival. Cancer Prev Res Phila Pa. 2011 Dec;4(12):2110–21.
8. Tse G, Eslick GD. Egg consumption and risk of GI neoplasms: dose-response meta-analysis and systematic review. Eur J Nutr. 2014 Oct;53(7):1581–90.
9. Johansson M, Van Guelpen B, Vollset SE, Hultdin J, Bergh A, Key T, et al. One-carbon metabolism and prostate cancer risk: prospective investigation of seven circulating B vitamins and metabolites. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev Publ Am Assoc Cancer Res Cosponsored Am Soc Prev Oncol. 2009 May;18(5):1538–43.
10. Platz EA, Clinton SK, Giovannucci E. Association between plasma cholesterol and prostate cancer in the PSA era. Int J Cancer J Int Cancer. 2008 Oct 1;123(7):1693–8.
11. Pelton K, Freeman MR, Solomon KR. Cholesterol and prostate cancer. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2012 Dec;12(6):751–9.
12. Cruz PMR, Mo H, McConathy WJ, Sabnis N, Lacko AG. The role of cholesterol metabolism and cholesterol transport in carcinogenesis: a review of scientific findings, relevant to future cancer therapeutics. Front Pharmacol. 2013;4:119.
13. Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Egg consumption and cancer of the colon and rectum. Eur J Cancer Prev Off J Eur Cancer Prev Organ ECP. 1994 May;3(3):237–45.
14. Cruse P, Lewin M, Clark CG. Dietary cholesterol is co-carcinogenic for human colon cancer. Lancet. 1979 Apr 7;1(8119):752–5.
15. Tang WHW, Wang Z, Levison BS, Koeth RA, Britt EB, Fu X, et al. Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk. N Engl J Med. 2013 Apr 25;368(17):1575–84.
16. Wang Z, Klipfell E, Bennett BJ, Koeth R, Levison BS, Dugar B, et al. Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature. 2011 Apr 7;472(7341):57–63.
17. Richman EL, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci EL, Zeisel SH, Willett WC, et al. Choline intake and risk of lethal prostate cancer: incidence and survival. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Oct;96(4):855–63.

About The Author

Cyrus Khambatta

Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of 22, I have spent over a decade learning the fundamentals of nutrition at the doctorate level. My goal is to share my knowledge of practical nutrition and fitness with people with prediabetes, type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is an OPPORTUNITY to attain excellent health. Reversing the effects of insulin resistance can be a fun and enjoyable process if the right system is in place. That's why I've spent over 10 years developing a rock solid system that can minimize blood glucose variability and insulin resistance.

Leave a comment or question below