Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Maria Luz Fernandez, PhD

Associate Advisor

Catherine J. Andersen, PhD, RD

Associate Advisor

Christopher N. Blesso, PhD

Associate Advisor

Ock K. Chun, PhD, MPH

Associate Advisor

Ji-Young Lee, PhD

Field of Study

Nutritional Science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in men and women in the United States. Modifiable risk factors including obesity, physical inactivity and poor nutrition are suitable targets to reduce risk. Eggs are a source of high quality protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, yet consumption is still met with uncertainty.

In order to examine the effect of consuming two eggs per day on certain biomarkers for CVD risk in a young, healthy population, we compared eggs to a heart-healthy breakfast of oatmeal in an 11-week cross-over dietary intervention. Fifty participants were randomly assigned to consume either two eggs per day or one packet of oatmeal for breakfast for 4 weeks. After a 3-week washout period, participants were allocated to the alternate breakfast.

Compared to oatmeal, there was no change in the LDL-C/HDL-C ratio, despite the increases in LDL and HDL cholesterol following egg intake. Modifications to dietary patterns occurred with a shift toward higher intake of protein and fat with eggs compared to an oatmeal breakfast. Participants self-reported feeling more satisfied after the egg breakfast, and in addition saw a decrease in plasma ghrelin, a biochemical marker of hunger.

Egg consumption had an impact on lipoprotein particle concentration, by resulting in an increase of large HDL and LDL. Large LDL is a less atherogenic lipoprotein than small LDL, while large HDL is postulated to be an indicator of more efficient reverse cholesterol transport. Additionally, consumption of eggs increased plasma lutein and zeaxanthin although dietary intake of these carotenoids was not different compared to the oatmeal period, suggesting increased presence in plasma with egg intake. Plasma choline was increased after egg intake, however, plasma trimethylamine N-oxide levels, a marker of CVD was not different between the egg and oatmeal periods.

The consumption of two eggs per day as compared to an oatmeal breakfast altered dietary intake, increased satiety, and improved additional biomarkers of CVD risk, while no negative change was observed in LDL-C/HDL-C ratio or TMAO production. Based on these findings, habitual egg consumption does not increase risk of CVD and provides beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, and potential CVD protection.

Available for download on Saturday, April 13, 2019