Is a diet rich in whole eggs nearly as artery clogging as smoking? That’s the premise of a new study, published Aug. 14 in the journal, Atherosclerosis.
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, a condition that contributes to heart attack and stroke risk in which plaque accumulates along the walls of the arteries. The connection was similar to one between smoking and arterial plaque that was calculated in the same study, he and a team of researchers found.
Spence’s research team surveyed 1,231 middle-aged male and female patients who had been referred to a vascular prevention clinic at the London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital after suffering a stroke or a “mini-stroke.”
The team measured subjects’ carotid wall thickness, and compared that with answers about egg yolk consumption, smoking, exercise habits and other lifestyle factors. They did not have the data to look at overall dietary patterns, according to Spence.
The researchers calculated egg yolk consumption and cigarette consumption in the same manner, and found that the top 20 percent of egg consumers had narrowing of the carotid artery that was two-thirds that of smokers. The finding is particularly surprising, as cigarettes are known to cause immediate and profound damage to vascular health.