The Egg Is Better Than It’s Cracked Up to Be

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Medical research has learned an important lesson from the egg this week: Don’t place all your hunches in one basket. A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association unpeeled a surprising new finding: Contrary to popular assumption, eating one egg a day does not significantly increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. The study essentially debunked the common train of thought that had given eggs a bum rap, explains TIME medical columnist Christine Gorman. “Scientists have known that eating eggs increases blood cholesterol, and they have also known that people with increased blood cholesterol face a greater risk of heart disease,” she says. But they jumped too quickly to conclude that eating eggs therefore increases heart disease.

“The missing link to the reasoning,” says Gorman, “is that although eggs do contain cholesterol, it turns out they do not increase cholesterol in the bloodstream that much.” The bigger contributors are foods with saturated fats and trans-fatty acids. And so the problem does not turn out to be eggs so much as “how eggs are consumed in the U.S. -- as in eggs with bacon,” says Gorman. If people insist on eating their eggs with meats, whole milk or doughnuts, they will be heading for trouble. And the latest study does include one major caveat for egg lovers: Stay away from them if you are diabetic. For those with diabetes, eating eggs increases the risk of heart disease.