New research has suggested regular consumption of egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis, an effect which is more often linked to smoking cigarettes.
Also known as coronary artery disease, it is a disorder of the arteries where plaques, aggravated by cholesterol, form on the inner arterial wall.
Dr David Spence revealed eating the yolk of an egg is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid. Having surveyed 1,231 men and women, Spence, of the University of Western Ontario, London, Canada, linked the findings to stroke and heart attack risk factors.
Plaque rupture is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes. The study involved patients, with a mean age of 61.5, attending vascular prevention clinics in Ontario. And ultrasound was used to establish a measurement of total plaque area and questionnaires were filled out regarding the patients’ lifestyles.
The research found carotid plaque area increased in line with age after 40, but increased exponentially after years of regular smoking and egg yolk consumption. The study also found those eating at least three yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate up to two yolks per week.
Dr Spence, 67, who is also a neurology professor, said: “The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue”. He goes further to say,“high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content. The study shows that, with age, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries and egg yolks make it build up faster.”
The effects of egg yolk consumption were independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes. While there is still room for more research to be done, it is strongly advised that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by anyone at risk of cardiovascular disease.
The research has been published online in the journal Atherosclerosis.