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Research finds eggs aren’t that bad, after all

KANNAPOLIS – The suggestion that egg consumption could increase risk of heart disease (Tang et al., 2013) has sparked both interest and controversy.

Work from UNC Chapel Hill researcher Katie Meyer, ScD, could help resolve some conflicting results (Meyer et al., 2016). Meyer looked at levels of trimethylamine oxide (TMAO), a gut microbiota-dependent nutrient metabolite, and 10-year incidence of risk factors for cardiovascular disease (TMAO was proposed as the causative factor in the earlier study).

Importantly, she found no association of plasma TMAO level with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Her study looked at generally healthy young adults, while Tang et al. had looked at an elderly population at higher risk for CVD. The differences in results, coupled with the differences in age and health of the two study populations, indicate that the association of TMAO with CVD risk found by Tang et al. is dependent on numerous factors and TMAO is not involved in early-stage atherosclerosis.

Meyer is a nutritional epidemiologist with particular interest in how nutrition and diet affects risk for cardiometabolic disease. She is a research assistant professor at UNC Chapel Hill and a UNC Nutrition Research Institute (NRI) Faculty Fellow.

For this study, she collaborated with colleagues at the NRI, UNC Chapel Hill, Vanderbilt University, Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota.

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