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Good news - your breakfast might not be trying to kill you after all!
The Internet was all abuzz yesterday with the news that eating egg yolks could be as detrimental to your heart as smoking cigarettes.
A study by Canada’s Western University claimed that people who eat three or more yolks per week had two-thirds as much plaque buildup in their arteries as those who smoked.
Plaque build-up limits the amount of blood that can pass through the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke. So does this mean we should be scared witless about eating eggs?
In 2006, Harvard conducted a study on the consumption of eggs. In that study, they acknowledged that the average large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, which is very high. But they also concluded that only a small amount of the cholesterol in eggs passes into the blood stream and that saturated and trans fats have a bigger effect on blood cholesterol levels.
Perhaps most importantly, the research showed that only in diabetics was there a correlation between eating eggs every day and developing heart disease.
Other medical experts have raised questions about the validity of Western's conclusions. Dr. Steven Nissen, chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation told ABC News that the researchers relied on patients to recall how many eggs they ate, and assumed that it was constant.
As he put it: “This is very poor quality research that should not influence patients’ dietary choices. It is extremely important to understand the difference between ‘association’ and ‘causation.’”
Another cardiologist, Dr. David Frid criticized the study saying that smoking cannot be equated to eating eggs because smoking directly impacts the cholesterol build-up in arteries by inflaming blood vessels and forcing them to respond with plaque. Eating eggs puts cholesterol in your system, and only some of it actually enters the blood stream. He further noted that the study failed to take exercise or other dietary choices into consideration.
The final piece of eyebrow-raising information - upon further investigation, even the study authors themselves noted that there were limitations to their study that include the potential for other variables to mask the results and errors in having patients self-report their egg consumption.
In conclusion, eggs aren't the enemy (as long as they're eaten in moderation.)