WEDNESDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Whether boiled, scrambled or sunny-side up, cholesterol-rich egg yolks can stiffen your arteries almost as much as smoking, a new study suggests.
"People at risk of vascular disease should not eat egg yolks," contends study lead author Dr. David Spence, professor of neurology at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada.
The cholesterol found in an egg's yellow center can even clog the carotid artery leading to the brain, upping risks for stroke, he pointed out.
"Carotid plaque goes up steeply with age, so the only people who can eat egg yolks with impunity are those who know they will die young from some cause other than vascular disease," Spence said.
The report was published online this month in Atherosclerosis.
For the study, Spence's team collected data on more than 1,200 men and women who were taking part in an initiative aimed at curbing heart disease.
The researchers used ultrasound to first determine the amount of plaque in each patient's arteries. They then asked patients about smoking, their frequency of eating eggs, other lifestyle factors and any medicines they were taking.
Although artery plaque levels rose with age, both smoking and eating egg yolks sped up this plaque formation within vessels, the researchers found. Regular consumption of egg yolks sped up plaque deposits in arteries at a rate that was about two-thirds the rate seen with smoking, Spence said.
People who ate three or more yolks a week had significantly increased plaque compared with people who ate two or fewer yolks a week, the team found. That makes sense, Spence said, since just "one egg yolk contains more than the recommended daily intake of cholesterol."
An expert not connected to the study agreed. According to Samantha Heller, clinical nutrition coordinator at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hos
All rights reserved