5 Dangerous Side Effects of Eating Too Many Eggs, According to Science
If there's any food fraught with a tug-of-war over its healthfulness, it's eggs. Over the years, eggs have been viewed as everything from an example of the perfect whole food to a dreaded harbinger of heart disease. And even though science now seems to confirm that eggs are, in fact, a healthy food overall, there's still such a thing as eating too many of them.
So what unseemly side effects might you experience from egg overload—and how many are too many? We're cracking open the details of what can happen when you overdo it on over-easies…or scrambles, benedicts, and frittatas.
Are eggs unhealthy?
Eggs are a minimally processed, low-calorie food loaded with 6 grams of protein each, a surprisingly high amount of monounsaturated fat, brain-boosting choline, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants known for supporting eye health. With all these nutrients (plus zero sugars and naturally low sodium), it would be hard to justify calling them unhealthy. Some research even shows that people who eat eggs are more likely to consume a healthy diet with a variety of important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Long story short, eggs aren't unhealthy—it's quite the opposite, actually! But eating too many of them may pose some risks for some people, especially those with certain health conditions. Specifically, people at risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes may need to limit their consumption of eggs. To learn more about the possible effects of eating a standard portion of eggs on your body, be sure to check out Are Eggs Good for You? 10 Science-Backed Effects of Eating Them Every Day.
How many eggs are considered too many?
If you enjoy a heartier serving of eggs here and there, it might be better to look at your overall weekly consumption of eggs rather than doling out one egg per day. According to the Mayo Clinic Health System, most healthy people can eat up to seven eggs per week without affecting their heart health.
A 2018 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition even found that consuming up to 12 eggs per week for three months didn't affect cardiovascular risk factors in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. (However, it's worth noting that the people in the study were following a diet designed for weight loss.)
Various factors may affect how many eggs are too many for each individual. If you have heart disease or diabetes, talk to your doctor to determine your best personal limit. But in the meantime, here are five possible side effects you're more likely to experience if you make a habit of eating too many eggs.
1. You might consume too much cholesterol
There's still plenty of debate on the question of whether eggs raise cholesterol. Although, for decades, experts believed that the cholesterol in egg yolks directly contributed to elevated cholesterol in the blood, it now appears that other elements in a person's diet and health history may be more impactful. Family history is a major predictor of blood cholesterol levels, and most of the cholesterol in our blood is made by the liver, not ingested through food.
Still, eggs do contain high amounts of cholesterol—about 190 milligrams, which is over 60% of the 300 milligrams previously recommended as a daily limit by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (As of 2015, the Guidelines no longer recommend a specific limit, stating simply that cholesterol consumption should be "as low as possible.") Depending on the other foods your diet includes, you can quickly exceed daily cholesterol guidelines by eating multiple eggs per day.
2. You could increase your risk of heart disease
Let's set the record straight: Most experts agree that one egg per day doesn't appear to increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, a large study on half a million Chinese adults revealed that up to one egg per day actually decreased the chances of developing cardiovascular disease.
On the other hand, a three- or four-egg extravaganza every morning could be a different story. A 2019 study associated eating over 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day with a 17% higher risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and 18% higher risk of death. And a large 2022 meta-analysis in Circulation concluded that greater daily egg consumption and total dietary cholesterol were associated with a greater risk of CVD and death.
More research may unscramble the years of seemingly conflicting evidence around eggs and heart disease, but for now, it's probably wise to eat eggs in moderation for heart health.
3. You might gain weight
If your go-tos for serving with eggs include heavy foods like greasy sausage, hashbrowns, sugary pancakes, cream-enriched coffee, or even a mimosa or two, your breakfast might end up weighing you down—literally. You might notice your weight creeping up if eating a high-calorie egg breakfast becomes a daily habit.
For optimal health and weight, try more nutritious add-ins for your eggs, like fresh spinach, diced bell peppers, or sliced grape tomatoes. You'll add color and antioxidants for far fewer calories! You can also experiment with cooking your eggs in a heart-healthy fat like avocado or olive oil.
4. You could increase your risk of diabetes
It's possible that eating high amounts of eggs could increase your risk of another chronic condition, too. In a 2009 study in the journal Diabetes Care, people who ate over seven eggs per week had a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ate fewer eggs.
That said, other research has found that eating eggs could actually improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity in people with prediabetes and type 2, and the American Diabetes Association recommends eggs as a source of protein.
5. You might end up eating more unhealthy foods
How do you like your eggs? We don't just mean whether you prefer poaching or scrambling. Cooking an egg doesn't change its nutrition factor—but what you cook it with certainly can. Many people fry their eggs in butter or serve them with high-fat, high-sodium processed meats like bacon or ham. In this way, eggs can be a vehicle for unwittingly consuming excess saturated fat, sodium, and calories. This (perhaps more than the eggs themselves) could lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
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