Scientists Say Indulging In Peanut Butter Every Day Has An Unexpected Impact On Your Body

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If you’re a peanut butter lover, then you’ll know how incredibly versatile the spread is. Slathered over apple slices or just a piece of toast, it can totally transform relatively plain foods into mouthwatering morsels. But do you know what your peanut butter addiction is doing to your health? Well, according to researchers, the nutty treat could have a startling impact on your body if it’s a regular part of your daily diet.

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Peanut butter isn’t for everyone, though – not least because of its unusual consistency. And regardless of whether you pick the creamy or crunchy variety of the paste, it’s often so thick that it can become glued to the top of your mouth – which doesn’t always work in its favor.

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Yet peanut butter also has the uncanny ability to go with practically anything. The nutty spread also adds a new layer of taste to tried-and-tested snacks; while a helping of chocolate is already delicious, smoothing over a portion of peanut butter can take things to another level.

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And, of course, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a staple of lunchboxes across the land. So, you may already be eating your fair share of peanut butter throughout the week; if you’re not, though, a group of experts have explained just why you should consider the idea.

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But for now, let’s explore peanut butter’s enduring popularity. And it’s fair to say that the paste doesn’t seem to be falling out of favor in the U.S. According to Statista, in 2017 American consumers splashed out around $1.85 billion on the foodstuff. That amounts to well over 500 million jars of peanut butter leaving store shelves.

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In 2018 Statista also revealed that, apparently, close to 290 million citizens of the United States – or almost 90 percent of the population – ate peanut butter. That’s obviously a huge number, and it seems to prove just how beloved the tasty spread really is across the country.

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The Texas Peanuts website also has some interesting statistics about peanut butter consumption in the United States. According to the site, hungry Americans each consume an average of about three pounds of the stuff annually. In total, then, around 700 million pounds of the delicious spread is eaten in the U.S. per year.

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But while you may think that the U.S. leads the way when it comes to eating peanut butter, you’d be mistaken. In a 2012 interview with Columbia University Press, author and journalist Jon Krampner explained, “Americans aren’t the only people who like [peanut butter], but almost no one likes it more than we do. The two exceptions are Canadians and the Dutch, who eat more peanut butter on a per capita basis than we do.”

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But what exactly is this peanut butter consumption really doing for us all? Well, it depends in part on the type of spread you choose. That’s according to nutrition expert Kris Gunnars, who delved into the subject while writing for the Healthline website in April 2018.

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Gunnars explained, “Peanut butter is a relatively unprocessed food. It’s basically just peanuts, often roasted, that are ground until they turn into a paste. However, this doesn’t apply to many commercial brands of peanut butter that contain various added ingredients such as sugar, vegetable oils and even trans fat.”

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“Eating too much added sugar and trans fat has been linked to various health problems, such as heart disease,” Gunnars went on. “Rather than buying junk food, [then], choose real peanut butter. It should contain nothing but peanuts and maybe a bit of salt.” And that should give you plenty of food for thought on your next trip to the store.

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Even so, the labeling on a jar of peanut butter may confuse you. For example, what’s the difference between a “natural” product and a “regular” item? And is the “unsweetened” option really better for you than an alternative with added sugar? Let’s clear things up a little.

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Regular peanut butter, for example, must contain only hydrogenated oils, salt and sweeteners as well as a minimum of 90 percent of peanuts. And as you may already have guessed, the unsweetened options possess no supplementary sugar – making them typically one of the more healthy choices.

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Natural peanut butter products, on the other hand, often have a very distinctive look. You see, while natural peanut butter may be free from stabilizers, there’s usually still a layer of oil sitting on the surface of the jar. So, before slapping the paste on to your snacks, you need to mix it up.

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Then, after a certain amount of time, the oils will naturally rise up out of the peanut butter – meaning you’ll have to stir the jar again ahead of your next meal. In 2017 writer Max Bonem explained the difference between natural and regular peanut butters in a piece for Food & Wine.

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Bonem revealed, “Natural peanut butter tends to be a bit grainier than its conventional counterpart – even if it’s ‘creamy.’ The natural separation [between the spread and the oil] is more likely to occur if you store peanut butter at room temperature. However, if you refrigerate it, natural peanut butter becomes much more difficult to work with.”

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Bonem added, however, “Conventional peanut butter is a cohesive spread that remains as is – regardless of temperature or where it’s stored. [So], if you’re someone who enjoys the occasional spoonful of peanut butter to snack on, conventional is undoubtedly the way to go.”

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As Gunnars previously highlighted, though, regular peanut butter products typically possess trans fats. So, while regular peanut butter may be easier to use than its natural counterpart, eating it in excess could pose a risk to your long-term health. And a professor from the University of Missouri has broken things down even further.

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Speaking to Infegy in 2013, Dr. Dale Brigham said, “Trans fats do the ‘double whammy’ of increasing heart disease risk by lowering HDL [high-density lipoprotein] – the good cholesterol – and raising LDL [low-density lipoprotein], the bad cholesterol. Even if regular peanut butter has a label that states ‘zero grams trans fat,’ it can contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving.”

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However, while there are clearly some downsides to eating certain types of peanut butter, you shouldn’t forget about the potential health benefits. Yes, while steering clear of excess trans fats is a must, a daily serving of the spread could still do wonders for your body.

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For instance, did you know that peanuts can actually help you to shed a few pounds? Yes, although nuts contain substantial amounts of fat, both this and their high levels of protein should help curb your hunger after only a few bites. In turn, that can stop you from overindulging. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition in 2018 has even hinted that the snack could lessen your chances of becoming obese.

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And that extends to peanut butter as well, according to Gunnars. “Since peanut butter is very high in fat, a 100-gram portion contains a hefty dose of 588 calories,” he wrote on the Healthline website. “[However], despite [this] high calorie content, eating moderate amounts of pure peanut butter or whole peanuts is perfectly fine on a weight-loss diet.”

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Gunnars continued, “Half of the fat in peanut butter is made up of oleic acid – a healthy type of monounsaturated fat also found in high amounts in olive oil. Oleic acid has been linked to several health benefits, such as improved insulin sensitivity. Peanut butter also contains some linoleic acid – an essential omega-6 fatty acid abundant in most vegetable oils.”

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Peanut butter additionally features a number of different vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and vitamin E – all of which we need in order to keep functioning in tip-top condition. The foodstuff is similarly packed with beneficial minerals including copper, magnesium, zinc and iron.

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And purer versions of peanut butter could be especially helpful if you’ve been diagnosed with a particular condition. Gunnars has claimed, you see, that those with type 2 diabetes could benefit from incorporating the cleaner and healthier varieties of the spread into their diets.

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Gunnars divulged, “[Peanut butter] also causes a very low rise in blood sugar, and [so it] is a perfect option for people with type 2 diabetes. One observational study showed that women who ate peanut butter five times per week or more were at a 21 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. These benefits have been partly attributed to oleic acid.”

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Elsewhere, peanut butter has the potential to help mental health. This may sound a little strange at first, but hear us out. Specifically, the nutty treat harbors monounsaturated fatty acids – otherwise known as MUFAs – that can actually protect the functionality of your brain.

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And this is especially helpful if you’re susceptible to stress, as that feeling usually has a negative impact on your brain’s activities. Simply put, a boost in MUFAs should help shield the organ from some of the more detrimental effects that stress creates in our day-to-day lives.

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Thanks to the beta-sitosterol found in peanut butter, you may also be able to keep your anxiety in check. How? Well, it appears that, crucially, this handy substance has the power to considerably lower the amount of cortisol in your body – which can be naturally high if you’re worrying.

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During periods of strain, the human body may slip into a state known as “fight or flight mode” and, as a consequence, churn out cortisol. But when the beta-sitosterol enters your system and brings these quantities of the hormone down, you should begin to feel a lot calmer than you were before.

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Expectant mothers may want to think about adding peanut butter to their diets, too. Back in 2015 a group from Vanderbilt University helmed a project that looked into the health benefits of the spread. And over the course of their research, the team made a stunning discovery about peanut butter’s effects on unborn babies.

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According to the researchers, if a pregnant woman has three to five servings of peanuts each week, her fetus will be less likely to be allergic to the foodstuff after it’s born. The belief is that the contents of the snack will filter down to the womb, thus allowing the fetus to “acclimatize” to peanuts and their effects.

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And if that wasn’t enough, a different project outlined in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment in 2013 has seemingly found that young women could lessen their chances of acquiring so-called “benign breast disease” by consuming more peanut butter. Foods such as soy, beans and vegetables were also said to help.

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However, among all of these positives, there’s another thing to keep in mind. In his post for Healthline, Gunnars revealed that peanut butter could be harboring a potentially dangerous and even cancer-provoking component – although the risks to health are seemingly slim if you typically consume processed versions of the product.

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Gunnars revealed, “Even though peanut butter is quite nutritious, it may also contain substances that can be harmful. At the top of the list are the so-called aflatoxins. Peanuts grow underground, where they tend to be colonized by a ubiquitous mold called Aspergillus. This mold is a source of aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic.”

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“While humans are fairly resistant to the short-term effects of aflatoxins, what happens down the line is not fully known at this point,” Gunnars continued. “Some human studies have linked aflatoxin exposure to liver cancer and stunted growth in children.” Despite those concerns, though, the nutrition expert did have some positive news to share.

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Gunnars cited a source, you see, that claimed the risks posed by aflatoxins were cut by 89 percent in peanut butter. This is apparently down to the production process that sees peanuts get ground into a paste. The United States Department of Agriculture has kept watch over the substance, too.

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So, does Gunnars believe that we should be adding more peanut butter to our diets? Well, in his mind, the health benefits are certainly worth it. But that doesn’t mean we should be going overboard – especially if peanut butter is a component of an otherwise unhealthy snack.

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“There are a lot of good things about peanut butter,” Gunnars wrote. “It’s fairly rich in nutrients and a decent protein source. It’s also loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals. Even though you shouldn’t use peanut butter as a dominant food source in your diet, it’s probably fine to eat every now and then in small amounts.”

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Gunnars then concluded, “Moderate consumption of peanut butter is unlikely to have any major negative effects as long as you are avoiding truly awful foods like sugary soda, trans fats and other highly processed junk foods.” And given what we’ve learned here about the health benefits of peanut butter, that’s some good advice to follow.

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But if you’re more partial to eggs in the morning than peanut butter, then you should also know exactly what you’re doing to your health. Yes, whether you like your eggs scrambled, sunny side up or simply poached, this breakfast staple has the potential to change your body in a quite astonishing manner.

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If you’re an egg lover, you’re certainly not alone. According to statistics portal Statistica, Americans ate 284 eggs each in 2018 – and that figure is only likely to rise in the years to come. Yet it’s perhaps no surprise that the food remains popular given the many nutritional benefits of a single egg. But what exactly happens to your body when you consume more than one egg regularly? Well, in 2019 the results of a study into this very subject were released – and they could make for startling reading.

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Eggs are, of course, a versatile food that can be prepared in many different ways – and pretty easily, too. If you decide on having a couple of eggs for breakfast, for instance, you’ll have to ponder whether to fry, poach or boil them. And these are only the methods that cater to the runny-yolk crowd.

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If you’re not a fan of runny yolks, then, scrambled eggs are a solid alternative. Alternatively, you may just decide to whip up an omelet, which naturally uses eggs as its base. But regardless of how you prefer to incorporate the food into your diet, you should take note of the worrying conclusion that researcher Victor Zhong and his colleagues have drawn.

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You see, according to Zhong and his fellow experts’ study – the results of which emerged in March 2019 – there could be a real impact upon your health if you like to eat an egg or two every day. It’s true, too, that eggs have long been a contentious and divisive topic in the dietary world.

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So let’s take a closer look at the popular culinary item. And make no mistake about it, eggs are indeed popular – as the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) revealed in 2018. In fact, you may just be stunned at the sheer numbers involved.

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Incredibly, the NASS announced that more than 92 billion eggs were purchased by consumers in America in 2017. It’s also believed that over 105 billion shells were laid that year by hens in the U.S. And as it happens, certain states are more responsible for that astonishing total than others.

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The NASS reported that, in 2016, close to 16 million eggs were laid in Iowa alone. Indiana, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania weren’t far behind, though, with the Hoosier State said to have produced over nine and a half million eggs that year. But what is it that makes so many people keen to have eggs in their diet?

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Well, the taste of eggs no doubt plays a part. Yet there is one other reason for the demand for this humble food. Yes, as we suggested earlier, the product is packed with healthy nutrients that can help the human body. And to explain more, an expert in the field dived into the subject while writing for the BBC Good Food website.

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Jo Lewin, who plies her trade as a professional nutritionist, revealed, “Both the white and yolk of an egg are rich in nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals. The yolk also contains fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins D and E) and essential fatty acids.”

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Lewin also went on to explain why eggs are sometimes found in other dishes. And as you may have already guessed, they’re often an essential mixing ingredient. The nutritionist continued, “Eggs are also an important and versatile ingredient for cooking, as their particular chemical make-up is literally the glue of many important baking reactions.”

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Even if you’re not consuming eggs by themselves, then, you may be able to reap the nutritional benefits. After all, not many people can resist the temptations of baked food. Yet you may be surprised by just how much goodness is packed inside a single shell, as Lewin went on to explain to BBC Good Food.

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Lewin revealed, “Eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high-quality protein. More than half the protein of an egg is found in the egg white, which includes vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat than the yolk. Eggs are [also] rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper.”

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The nutritionist continued, “Egg yolks contain more calories and fat than the whites. They are a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin – the compound that enables emulsification in recipes such as hollandaise or mayonnaise.” And that isn’t all. Lewin added, “Eggs are regarded as a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids.”

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But while eggs aren’t calorie-free, they’re surprisingly healthy in that respect, too. According to Lewin, a single medium egg that has been boiled contains only around 84 calories, with less than a third of the fat that it contains being saturated. And a research project that was unveiled back in June 2017 raises yet another intriguing point about the foodstuff.

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The study in question was detailed in a 2017 edition of the medical journal Pediatrics. Specifically, the researchers involved wanted to see if eggs would aid in the growth of very young children. And to test this hypothesis out, the group targeted kids in Ecuador who were between six and nine months old.

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Testing took place between March and December 2015, with the children being fed a single egg a day for around six of those months. Then, some two years on from the experiment, the results of the process were revealed in Pediatrics. And what emerged was particularly significant for youngsters suffering from stunted growth.

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You see, the researchers believed that consuming eggs had a positive impact on how their test subjects had developed. The experts explained in their paper, “The findings supported our hypothesis that early introduction of eggs significantly improved growth in young children. Generally accessible to vulnerable groups, eggs have the potential to contribute to global targets to reduce stunting.”

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Lewin had a few more facts up her sleeve that she wanted to share, too. After touching upon all of the different properties contained within eggs, the nutritionist focused on a couple in particular. And these elements were again essential for the growth of young children.

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“Eggs are rich in several nutrients that promote heart health, such as betaine and choline,” Lewin wrote for the BBC Good Food website. “During pregnancy and breastfeeding, an adequate supply of choline is particularly important, since choline is essential for normal brain development [in children].” Then the nutritionist focused on the vitamins found in eggs.

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Specifically, the specialist turned her attention to a vitamin that often becomes more difficult to get enough of as you get older. Lewin said, “Eggs are a useful source of vitamin D, which helps to protect bones and prevent osteoporosis and rickets. Shop wisely, because the method of production – free-range, organic or barn-raised – can make a difference to vitamin D content.”

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That said, in 2019 another study came to light that hinted at some of the unforeseen consequences of eating eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And unlike the previous project in Ecuador, the research on which these conclusions were based used data that had been accumulated over a substantial period.

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Head researcher Zhong and his team had looked back over six past experiments that had taken place in the U.S. Those studies all spanned an average of 17 and a half years and monitored more than 29,500 people. And after bringing all of the figures together, the group came to a somewhat worrying conclusion.

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According to the study’s results – which were published in JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association – you could be in danger of developing heart disease if you consume between three and four eggs each day. That’s principally down to the high levels of cholesterol found in egg yolks. But just how did Zhong and his colleagues come to this conclusion?

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Well, using the data that they had acquired from the previous studies, the researchers discovered that around 5,400 “cardiovascular events” had taken place during the years in which the participants were surveyed. To break things down even further, more than 1,300 of those individuals had suffered strokes, while close to 1,900 people had experienced heart failure. Some of those health events proved fatal, too.

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In addition to those numbers, more than 110 test subjects were found to have passed away from different forms of heart disease. And if that wasn’t startling enough, the researchers uncovered yet another eye-opening statistic during the study. Yes, after reading through all of the results, they made a significant connection.

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Specifically, the specialists realized that adding just an extra half an egg to the daily diet of a person who already consumes the foodstuff would raise their chances of developing cardiovascular disease by 6 percent. And one of the researchers involved with the study would go on to speak more about these findings with Reuters.

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Professor Norrina Allen from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine explained, “The take-home message [from our study] is that individuals who consume higher levels of dietary cholesterol are at increased risk for the development of heart disease and mortality later in life. In the U.S. diet, eggs are one of the top sources of cholesterol.”

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However, Allen wanted to make something else clear during her interview with Reuters. She continued, “I’m not advocating people [to] take [eggs] completely out of their diets. I’m just suggesting that people eat them in moderation.” The associate professor also shone a light on the unpredictable nature of cholesterol.

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Because although cholesterol is often viewed negatively, we’ve all got it in our systems. This form of fat originates in our intestines and livers, and it plays a vital part in helping our bodies create vitamin D, estrogen and testosterone.

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The real issue with cholesterol, then, is that certain foods are often packed with the stuff. And by eating that excess fat, you run the risk of developing health problems down the road. Yet keeping all that in mind, Allen admitted that there was no easy way to advise people about eggs beyond her “moderation” plea.

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Allen went on to explain to Reuters, “The amount of cholesterol you consume isn’t linked in a straightforward way with the amount found in your blood. That depends on a lot of factors, including your genes and how you metabolize cholesterol.” She isn’t the only one to have weighed in with their opinion on the matter, either.

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The University of Colorado School of Medicine’s Robert Eckel, for instance, commented on the study in the same edition of JAMA. And in the column, he urged that everyone needed to be aware of its findings – especially those who have previously dismissed the connection between cholesterol and ill health.

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Eckel wrote, “The association of egg consumption and dietary cholesterol with [cardiovascular disease], although debated for decades, has more recently been thought to be less important. [But this new study] is far more comprehensive, with enough data to make a strong statement that eggs and overall dietary cholesterol intake remain important in affecting the risk of [cardiovascular disease].”

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“And [that’s even] more so [with] the risk of all-cause mortality,” Eckel added. “Considering the negative consequences of egg consumption and dietary cholesterol in the setting of heart-healthy dietary patterns, the importance of limiting intake of cholesterol-rich foods should not be dismissed.” The potential ramifications of the project were enough to provoke a response from across the pond, too.

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In particular, the British Heart Foundation’s dietitians opened up about the research while in conversation with the U.K.’s Science Media Center. Apparently, though, the organization believed that its results weren’t altogether proven beyond doubt. Victoria Taylor said, “This type of study can only show an association rather than cause and effect, and more research is needed for us to understand the reasons behind this link.”

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Taylor added, “Eggs are a nutritious food. And while this study focuses on the amount we’re eating, it’s just as important to pay attention to how the eggs are cooked and to the trimmings that come with them. Eating healthily is all about balance.”

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So, after hearing the conclusions of Zhong and his colleagues, you may now feel a little bit wary about overindulging in eggs – particularly on a day-to-day basis. And if you’ve been spurred on to give your eating habits an overhaul, then rest assured: there are healthy alternatives out there. One of the most notable is the Mediterranean diet.

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This particular regime encourages people to introduce more nutritionally beneficial foods such as fish, nuts, olive oil, fruits and vegetables into their diets. And while eggs can also be found on the list, they must be eaten in moderation. There’s some good news, too, for those who are anxious about maintaining their heart health.

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According to a Spanish study that was published in 2013, the Mediterranean diet could help ward off the development of heart problems. Not only that, but the research also intimated that the regimen could even be a healthier option than other, more “low-fat” plans. And off the back of these findings, a nutrition expert from the Harvard School of Public Health provided further insight.

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While speaking to USA Today in February 2013, Walter Willett said, “Fat in the diet continues to be demonized, even though the evidence is clear that some types of fat improve blood cholesterol. This [Spanish] study adds further proof that diets high in healthy fats can be superior to a low-fat diet.”

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