Are egg yolks as bad as smoking?

A recent study has added to the confusion on whether eggs are good or bad. We went to the experts for answers

Are egg yolks as bad as smoking?

Source: Best Health magazine, December 2012; Image: Thinkstock

According to Canada’s Food Guide, eggs are part of a healthy diet. So it’s no surprise if results of an August 2012 study have caused confusion. It found regular consumption of egg yolks to be about two thirds as bad as smoking for increasing buildup of carotid plaque. It suggests that people at risk of cardiovascular disease should avoid eating egg yolks regularly.

The Ontario study surveyed 1,231 men and women attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. Participants filled in a questionnaire detailing their smoking habits and consumption of egg yolks. ‘What we’ve shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries of Canadians, and egg yolks make it build up faster,’ lead author Dr. David Spence said in a press release.

We asked Christine Le Grand, a science policy analyst at the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, to comment. ‘Heart disease and stroke have many risk factors besides diet, such as smoking, high blood pressure, inact­ivity, diabetes and high cholesterol,’ she says. This study reported only on diet, and on only one component of diet. It didn’t reveal how much saturated fat, sugar or sodium participants consumed, which, she says, are important factors.

That being said, Le Grand recommends that people at a greater risk for heart disease and stroke limit daily dietary cholesterol to 200 mg’roughly equal to the yolk of a large egg.

This article was originally titled "Are egg yolks as bad as smoking?" in the December 2012 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!