Researchers from Western University, Canada found a relationship between egg yolk consumption and the development of atherosclerosis, a condition that contributes to heart attack and stroke risk. The study showed that eating three or more egg yolks per week increase chances of atherosclerosis and that eating egg yolk is about two thirds as bad as smoking.
The researchers surveyed more than 1,200 middle-aged male and female patients. All the participants were patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. The participants were given questionnaires asking them about their lifestyles like egg yolk consumption, smoking, and exercise habits. They also underwent an ultrasound test to determine plaque area in their arteries.
Researchers found that the area of plaque increased with age but people who smoked or ate more than three egg yolks per week had higher plaque area. With aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries, and egg yolks make it build up faster. The researchers suggest that people who are at a high risk for heart disease must avoid regular consumption of egg yolk.
The risk of cardiovascular diseases can increase due to high cholesterol intake. One egg contains approximately 213 mg of cholesterol and all of an egg’s cholesterol is contained in the yolk. According to the American Heart Association, the daily recommended limit is 300 mg for people with healthy blood cholesterol levels. For people with high cholesterol levels, the limit is even lower -about 200 mg of cholesterol per day.
Some critics of the study say that the comparison between egg yolks and cigarettes is not fair. Both of them are harmful, but they cause harm in different ways. Eating egg yolks indirectly affect plaque build-up and the narrowing of the arterial wall by increasing the cholesterol levels. Smoking is directly harmful because it inflames the arteries, causing plaque. However, there are also many factors that can affect your cholesterol above eating eggs, including overweight, whether you exercise, and genetics.
Although the study revealed the negative effects of eggs, it doesn’t mean that consuming eggs is entirely unhealthy. Eggs are one of the best sources of nutrients. If you want to eat or cook with eggs without raising your cholesterol levels, you can use only egg whites in your favorite egg-based dishes.