High Cholesterol and Egg Intake Do Not Increase Risk of Memory Disorders, Study Shows

Ana de Barros, PhD avatar

by Ana de Barros, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Alzheimer's cholesterol study

Neither high cholesterol intake nor daily egg consumption increases the risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (AD), according to a study of Finnish men.

In fact, moderate egg intake may improve cognitive performance, researchers said.

The study also showed no link between men with the APOE4 gene and the development of dementia or Alzheimer’s. The gene affects cholesterol metabolism and increases the risk of a memory disorder.

The research, “Association of dietary cholesterol and egg intakes with the risk of incident dementia or Alzheimer disease: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study,” was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Previous research had shown a connection between eggs and other high-cholesterol foods and cognitive decline, both in the general population and among those with the apolipoprotein E ɛ4 (APOE4) gene.

The prevalence of APOE4 in Finland is particularly high, with about a third of the population carrying it. The gene is a major risk factor in dementia.

Jyrki Virtane and colleagues at the University of Eastern Finland looked at the eating habits of 2,497 men in eastern Finland for connections between cholesterol and egg intake on the one hand and cognitive performance, dementia and Alzheimer’s on the other.

They chose men between 42 and 60 with no memory disorder who were taking part in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.

The men recorded the foods they ate.

Neuropsychological frontal-lobe tests, the Trail Making Test and the Verbal Fluency Test were used to assess their cognitive abilities.

The researchers found that after 22 years, 337 men had been diagnosed with dementia and 266 with Alzheimer’s. About a third of the study participants were APOE4 carriers.

Neither cholesterol nor egg intake was linked with an increased risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s, even when the researchers accounted for the APOE4 carriers.  In fact, egg intake was associated with better cognitive performance.

The findings indicate that neither a high-cholesterol diet nor frequent egg intake increases the risk of memory disorders, even in individuals at genetic risk, the researchers said.