Is Your Breakfast Killing You?

“Rise ‘n shine, go to work on an egg!” is a commercial jingle I grew up with in England in the 1960′s.  Eggs are good for you; everyone knew that.

Not so. A new study finds that eggs are nearly as bad for your arteries as cigarettes.

Specifically, the study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, states that the cholesterol in egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis (the build-up of plaque in our arteries) almost as much as smoking.

But wait a minute, on the contrary: an April 5th, 2012 article by Tanya Zuckerbrot, “Egg-cellent nutrition” makes the statement that there is, “no correlation between egg consumption and cardiovascular disease for those that do not have high cholesterol or diabetes”. The study cited in this article is the Physicians Health Study 1,2,3.

The controversy on whether eggs are good or bad for human consumption has been going on for years. So what’s the truth?

Writing in The Atlantic, Brian Fung reports on this latest study in Atherosclerosis by first pointing out that last year, the average American consumed 247 eggs — over 40 percent more than the world per-capita average. Because egg yolks are high in cholesterol, eating whole eggs increases cholesterol, a known risk factor for coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks.

That is indeed a whole lot of eggs.

And Fung relates the findings of this research:

Aging was associated with a linear increase in arterial plaque after age 40, but smoking and egg consumption were each independently associated with an exponential increase in plaque. Egg consumption had two-thirds of the effect of smoking.

CONCLUSION: Egg yolks are almost as bad for your carotid arteries as smoking.

IMPLICATION: While the link between eggs and cholesterol — and between cholesterol and heart disease — is well established, this study sheds light on the extent of their potential harm if eaten routinely in large quantities. A single large egg contains more than 180 mg of cholesterol — more than a third of a person’s daily recommended intake. By this measure, a typical American breakfast alone, with two eggs (plus bacon!), would push well past that. Egg whites, meanwhile, remain excellent.

Let’s stop on that phrase: “if routinely eaten in large quantities.” And the bottom line is that if you are at risk for cardiovascular disease, you should stay away from all high cholesterol foods.  No, not everyone, just that demographic group.

The Examiner has this to say:

I do know that eggs have been part of the human diet since the domestication of animals. I also know that too much of any one thing is bad. But considering all of the other health benefits of eggs (protein, B vitamins, riboflavin, folate, vitamin E, increased eye health, etc. Physicians Health Study 1,2,3) I think a couple over medium is far better for you than sucking on a Winston.

We are all different, and there are so many more factors to consider than just one food source. Everything in moderation and balance, please!

So before you decide to completely revamp your diet, consider that as long as you are not at risk for cardiovascular disease, including eggs as part of a healthy diet is just fine. Or you could just eat the boring egg whites, of course.

What do you think?

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Photo Credit: MissK1

211 comments

Yvette T.
Past Member 2 years ago

The egg industry is the cruelest of them all....please eat oats such as in granola instead...high in calcium, lowers cholesterol....all grains, nuts, fruits, cereals good, blood and flesh bad (in every way from spiritual to environmental)

Ellen J.
Ellen J.2 years ago

Life is terminal. As Jim Morrison said " no one here gets out alive." We are apparently in trouble no matter what we eat or eschew. I guess moderation is still the best thing. thanks for the article.

Sherry C.
Sherry C.2 years ago

can't trust any studies any more. They give the "result" based on what the funder wants.

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen2 years ago

Thank you :)

Louis Olivencia
Louis Olivencia2 years ago

This article just confuses people further!

Wendy G.
Wendy G.2 years ago

I enjoy a good fried egg on toast, especially with fried mushrooms tomato and melted cheese. Don't anticipate I will be giving this up in a hurry.

sarah jaffe
sarah jaffe2 years ago

I have an idea, only have them once a week for breakfast.. i couldn't give up the yolky goodness but if you want to cut back, you could break two eggs but pluck out one yolk, cook your omelet, then use the leftover yolk as a face mask. Gross but really good for the skin, just smear it on until it's dry then rinse it off.

Jeaneen Andretta
Past Member 2 years ago

I do not know if it is killing the people eating it, but I do now it is killing the poor animals producing them.

Jennifer C.
Past Member 2 years ago

Thanks.

Anna Undebeck
Anna Undebeck2 years ago

Thanks!