Egg Yolks Nearly as Bad for Arteries as Cigarettes in Middle Age

It may pay to lay off the eggs as you get older – or at least to only eat the whites – a new Canadian study suggests.

Older adults (average age, 61.5) who eat three egg yolks per week have around two-thirds the level of plaque in their arteries as regular smokers, the study authors show. This plaque build-up, called atherosclerosis, is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

“The mantra ‘eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people’ has confused the issue. It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content,” says lead author J. David Spence, M.D., of Western University in London, Ontario. “In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay.”

Of course, most older adults aren’t guzzling egg yolks as part of some Rocky-style physical-training regimen, so it’s important to remove yolks from more typical sources like scrambled eggs or when baking to limit your cardiovascular risks. Replacing eggs with soy at breakfast may additionally slow arterial clogging, research suggests.

The study appears online in the journal Atherosclerosis.

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