New research from the University of Western may have you swapping your morning eggs for a healthier option to experience good health benefits and help to prevent heart disease and stroke. Researchers found that eating eggs yolks may be almost as harmful as smoking for individuals who are at risk for heart disease and stroke. The findings from this study may give some insight into diet modifications that can help with cardiac care for individuals at a high risk for heart disease and stroke.
The researchers conducted an observational study, involving over 1,200 men and women with a mean age of 61.5 year that were seen at vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre’s University Hospital. The researchers measured carotid plaque build-up in the arteries in each of the participants. The study participants were asked to filled out questionnaires regarding their lifestyle habits and medications including pack-years smoked (the number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years smoked) and egg-yolk years (the number of egg yolks eaten per week multiplied by the number of years the individual ate egg yolks). The researchers found that after the age of 40, the amount of plaque build-up steadily increased in all individuals. However, for the participants who consumed the most egg yolks (3 or more per week), the plaque build-up in their arteries was substantially greater than what was seen in individuals who ate fewer egg yolks. The carotid plaque buildup seen in these individuals was approximately 2/3 of the plaque build-up that was seen in the heaviest smokers in the study. The researchers concluded that high egg yolk consumption and the resulting plaque build-up is similar to what is seen in smokers.
Plaque build-up in arteries is a significant risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the artery walls thicken. This leads to a narrowing of the artery which makes blood flow more difficult, placing an increased burden on the heart because it has to pump harder to make the blood flow. Additionally, if plaque breaks off from the artery walls, it can impair blood flow to the heart or brain resulting in a heart attack or stroke.
The findings from this study do provide some insight into possible diet modifications that can be made for cardiac care and the prevention of heart disease and stroke; however, it did have a number of limitations which need to be addressed in future research, including:
-The questionnaires relied solely on the participants recollection of egg yolk consumption which may have been inaccurate
-There was no monitoring of how the eggs were cooked (scrambled, fried, etc.) or if anything was added to the eggs (salt, pepper, butter, etc.)
-Other risk factors for heart disease and stroke were not assessed (alcohol consumption, amount of exercise, etc)
The findings from this study suggest that regular consumption of eggs yolks should be avoided in people that are at risk for heart disease and stroke. However, as mentioned above, this study had multiple limitations and therefore additional research is needed to determine the exact role that egg yolks play in heart disease and stroke while taking other factors into consideration including diet, exercise, etc.
Having a heart attack or stroke can be a devastating event in a persons’ life, it is therefore important to take cardiac care steps to help prevent theses life-altering events from happening. While we wait for additional research to be done to determine a definitive link between egg yolk consumption and an increased risk of stroke and heart attack, we should take every cardiac care step possible. This means that if you’re at risk of heart disease and stroke and you’re looking to achieve good health and prevent stroke, decreasing your consumption of egg yolks may be one step that can provide good health benefits. If you love your morning eggs, try eating just the egg white to help with cardiac care and experience good health benefits.
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