A new study suggests eating egg yolks can accelerate heart disease almost as much as smoking. The study published online in the journal Atherosclerosis found eating egg yolks regularly increases plaque buildup about two-thirds as much as smoking does. Specifically, patients who ate three or more yolks a week showed significantly more plaque than those who ate two or less yolks per week. It may seem harsh to compare smoking with eating egg yolks, but lead study author Dr. David Spence says researchers needed a way to put it into perspective since both eating cholesterol and smoking increase cardiovascular risks – but the general public believes smoking is far worse for your health. The issue is with the yolk, not the egg, says Spence, who is also a professor of neurology at the University of Western Ontario's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. “One jumbo chicken egg yolk has about 237 milligrams of cholesterol.” Keeping a diet low in cholesterol is key, says Spence. Even if you are young and healthy, eating egg yolks can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases later. “Just because you are 20 doesn't mean egg yolks aren't going to cause any trouble down the line,” he says.
For those patients with increased coronary risk, such as diabetics, eating an egg yolk a day can increase coronary risk by two to five-fold, he adds. Atherosclerosis, also called coronary artery disease, occurs when plaque builds up in the blood vessels leading to the heart, specifically the inner arterial wall, and limits the amount of blood that can pass through.