It turns out they're not nearly as bad for your heart as people once thought.

In the past, eggs had a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol—but a pair of studies published this month find that health fears surrounding these protein powerhouses may be misguided.

The first study, published in the medical journal Heart by a team of researchers at Peking University Health Science Center in China, illustrates the link between eating eggs daily and the risk of heart disease. Looking at more than 415,000 participants who were free of any chronic disease such as heart disease and diabetes, researchers studied their diet and lifestyle for almost nine years—13 percent of these individuals enjoyed a serving or more of eggs every day, while 9 percent reported rarely consuming eggs. 

The study concluded that those who enjoyed eggs daily had lower risks of heart disease overall—up to 26 percent less of a risk of hemorrhagic stroke (as well as 28 percent less at risk from dying from this kind of stroke) and 18 percent lower risk of facing lethal complications from forms of cardiovascular disease. 

Another compelling case, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, builds on evidence presented by the initial study. It shows that even for those suffering from type-2 diabetes or pre-diabetes, eggs did not influence risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Conducted by teams of researchers at the University of Sydney Medical School and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia, the study lasted for three months. Participants were asked to maintain their weight with a high-egg diet—more than 12 eggs each week. Another group maintained their weight with a diet of less than two eggs per week. After the three month period, researchers found no difference in the two groups' cholesterol levels, or risk of developing serious cardiovascular disease.

Just to be sure their findings weren't coincidental, the same group of people were asked to diet and lose weight for an additional three months, while consuming the same amounts of eggs they had been doing so earlier. Over the next year, researchers kept up with the individuals as they tried to lose weight with various amounts of eggs scattered into their diet.

Credit: Getty: Kriengkrai Kontasorn

And at the end of the observation, both of the groups had failed to develop any increased risk for heart-clogging diseases, despite previous research pointing to cholesterol and saturated fats as pitfall for the breakfast staple. The doctors involved checked for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure levels, and found no significant difference between the two groups of egg eaters.

What's more? The presence of 12 eggs a week in a diet didn't lead to weight gain, the research says.

"Eggs are a source of protein and micronutrients that could support a range of health and dietary factors," Dr. Nick Fuller, the study's lead author, told ScienceDaily. "Including helping to regulate the intake of fat and carbohydrate, eye and heart health, healthy blood vessels and healthy pregnancies."

The bottom line: These recent studies support how we've viewed eggs for a while here at Cooking Light: As an essential part of a wholesome, well-balanced diet. Over the last year, in particular, we've watched as a few sources reignited the debate of whether or not eggs are harmful for you—including one viral documentary that claimed eating one egg is as harmful as smoking five cigarettes. While a breakfast containing an egg can still be unhealthy depending on how you cook it and what you eat it with, there's simply no truth to claims that enjoying healthy egg dishes will harm health.