According to a new study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal: Atherosclerosis, a diet rich in whole eggs is nearly as artery clogging as smoking.
The research premise is based on a Canadian study which used ultrasound to view the fatty build-up in the arteries of around 1,200 adults who were attending a vascular prevention clinic after suffering a stroke.
The adults in the study all had pre-existing risk factors for heart disease.
Dr. J. David Spence, a professor of neurology at Western University in Canada found a relationship between egg yolk consumption and the development of atherosclerosis.
Spence claims the connection was similar to one between smoking and arterial plaque that was calculated in the same study.
The researchers found that the top 20 percent of egg consumers had narrowing of the carotid artery that was two-thirds that of smokers.
But the study has several critics.
“Smoking has a direct effect on blood vessels and development of plaque, whereas with eggs, it’s really an indirect effect: Eggs are part of the diet and the diet has an effect on overall blood cholesterol,” said Dr. David J. Frid, a staff cardiologist in preventive cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic.
“A high level of blood cholesterol can lead to arterial plaque, but there are so many factors that can affect your cholesterol above eating eggs. There’s the rest of your diet, whether you’re overweight, whether you exercise, genetics.”
The study also contained the following limitations:
* The accuracy of the participants’ recollections of their egg yolk consumption.
* A lack of detailed information on how the eggs were cooked.
* There may have been additional risk factors contributing to artery ‘clogging’, not assessed by the study, such as lack of exercise or alcohol consumption.
* While it is reasonable to assume that fatty build-up in the neck arteries can increase the risk of heart disease, it is uncertain exactly what the increased level of risk would be.
Frid suggested that people who report eating a lot of eggs may also eat high risk foods such as sausages or grits. “The eggs could be a marker of people who have poor diet, rather than an actual characteristic,” he says.
Dr. David J. Gordon, special assistant for clinical studies at the Division of Cardiovascular Sciences at the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute, agreed.
“This study does not address other dietary factors known to influence cardiovascular risk, such as saturated and trans fat, or dietary fiber,” Gordon wrote in an email to Healthy Living.
“It is difficult to pinpoint the effect of one specific food or nutrient without considering the other components of a person’s diet.”
One major study even found that egg eating was associated with a rise in the good, protective kind of cholesterol — along with LDL levels, which clog arteries.
Eggs are a good source of vitamin D, according to Frid. And besides vitamins, eggs are a good source of protein and minerals.
The bottom line is limiting whole eggs to four per week, according to the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute.
“A single egg yolk, at 200 mg, has two-thirds of the National Heart Blood and Lung Institute’s recommended daily cholesterol intake for healthy individuals who don’t have heart disease, diabetes or high LDL-cholesterol.”
Julia Child – “Everybody is Overreacting”
In 1990, Julia Child was quoted in the New York Times as explaining to her audience that wherever she travels around the country these days, she is greeted by some people as the Cholesterol Queen: “I hear them saying, ‘Here comes Julia, with all the cream and butter [and eggs no doubt].’”
“If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don’t suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun,” Mrs. Child insisted. “It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.”