Intake of up to 3 Eggs/Day Increases HDL Cholesterol and Plasma Choline While Plasma Trimethylamine-N-oxide is Unchanged in a Healthy Population

Lipids. 2017 Mar;52(3):255-263. doi: 10.1007/s11745-017-4230-9. Epub 2017 Jan 13.


Eggs are a source of cholesterol and choline and may impact plasma lipids and trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) concentrations, which are biomarkers for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk. Therefore, the effects of increasing egg intake (0, 1, 2, and 3 eggs/day) on these and other CVD risk biomarkers were evaluated in a young, healthy population. Thirty-eight subjects [19 men/19 women, 24.1 ± 2.2 years, body mass index (BMI) 24.3 ± 2.5 kg/m2] participated in this 14-week crossover intervention. Participants underwent a 2-week washout with no egg consumption, followed by intake of 1, 2, and 3 eggs/day for 4 weeks each. Anthropometric data, blood pressure (BP), dietary records, and plasma biomarkers (lipids, glucose, choline, and TMAO) were measured during each intervention phase. BMI, waist circumference, systolic BP, plasma glucose, and plasma triacylglycerol did not change throughout the intervention. Diastolic BP decreased with egg intake (P < 0.05). Compared to 0 eggs/day, intake of 1 egg/day increased HDL cholesterol (HDL-c) (P < 0.05), and decreased LDL cholesterol (LDL-c) (P < 0.05) and the LDL-c/HDL-c ratio (P < 0.01). With intake of 2-3 eggs/day, these changes were maintained. Plasma choline increased dose-dependently with egg intake (P < 0.0001) while fasting plasma TMAO was unchanged. These results indicate that in a healthy population, consuming up to 3 eggs/day results in an overall beneficial effect on biomarkers associated with CVD risk, as documented by increased HDL-c, a reduced LDL-c/HDL-c ratio, and increased plasma choline in combination with no change in plasma LDL-c or TMAO concentrations.

Keywords: Cholesterol; Choline; Eggs; HDL; LDL; TMAO.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood*
  • Choline / blood*
  • Eggs / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylamines / blood*
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Methylamines
  • trimethylamine
  • Choline