Eating cholesterol-loaded eggs does not increase your Alzheimer’s disease risk

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Eggs are not an Alzheimer’s disease risk factor, according to a new study. Nutritionists at University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, Finland conducted a study and found evidence suggesting that eating eggs or high intake of cholesterol may not pose any Alzheimer’s disease risk. The study was reported at the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eggs are known to have high levels of cholesterol which is linked to a variety of vascular diseases such as heart disease and also possibly Alzheimer’s disease. Many people may consider eggs as an Alzheimer’s disease risk factor.

Enrolled in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study were 2497 dementia free men aged 42 to 60 years between 1984 and 1989. A total of 1259 men provided information of the apolipoprotein E or Apo-E phenotype. Cognitive performance tests were performed at the baseline and four year later in 480 men and diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease was verified with Finnish health registries. Dietary intake of cholesterol and eggs were surveyed at baseline.

During a 22-year follow-up, 337 men were diagnosed with dementia and 266 men were found suffering Alzheimer’s disease. Statistical analyses did not reveal any correlation between cholesterol or egg intake and dementia or Alzheimer’s’ disease risk.

Specifically, intake of 100 mg cholesterol per day was linked to actually 10% reduced risk for incident dementia while intake of half an egg per day (about 27 grams) was associated with 11% decreased Alzheimer’s disease risk.

However, only egg consumption was associated with better performance on neuropsychological tests of the frontal lobe and executive functions.  Eating eggs was also correlated with better performance on the Trail Making Test, and the Verbal Fluency Test.

The Apo-E4 phenotype did not affect the associations. Apo-E4 is the largest known Alzheimer’s disease risk factor.

The study concludes “Neither cholesterol nor egg intake is associated with an increased risk of incident dementia or AD (Alzheimer’s disease) in Eastern Finnish men. Instead, moderate egg intake may have a beneficial association with certain areas of cognitive performance.”

The findings should be valid only among Finnish men and should not be applied to a male population in another country or region because risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease can vary from one population to another, which can complicate the association between egg intake and Alzheimer’s disease risk. For instance, some studies linked high cholesterol to increased risk for dementia.

An estimated 5 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease. There is no effective treatment for the disease. However, there are many things a person can do to lower his risk for the disease. For example, Mediterranean diet and dietary antioxidant supplements may help prevent the disease. (David Liu)

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