Is Eating Eggs Really As Bad For Your Heart as Smoking?

My view is eggs is something like that of an early morning protein packet.  I know they are high in cholesterol, but they are natural, right?  Well, not everything that is 'natural' is healthy and unfortunately this seems to be true of eggs (even when served without bacon).  Recent studies suggest that consumption of three eggs per week may in fact be as bad for your cardiovascular system as smoking.

TIME Healthland reports that a study out of Western University in Canada demonstrated that the more eggs people eat, the thicker their arterial walls become increasing risk of heart disease.  In fact, the increased risk of cardiovascular problems was so significant it was nearly as high as the increased risk associated with smoking.  In study participants eating the most eggs, arterial plaque accumulation increased dramatically.  Carotid plaque build-up in individuals eating the most eggs was about two-thirds that of heavy smokers.  Researchers concluded that the increase in arterial plaque from eating eggs "follows a similar pattern to that of cigarette smoking". 

Arterial plaque accumulation results in significantly elevated risk of heart attack and stroke.  Researchers warn that "the prevailing tendency to ignore dietary cholesterol as a risk factor for coronary heart disease requires reassessment including the consumption of cholesterol from eggs".  Dietary guidelines recommend that adults consume no more than 300mg of cholesterol each day.  A single egg contains 180mg of cholesterol.

Cardiologist Dr. Steven Nissen is not concerned with the results of this study reports ABC News.  He believes that study is flawed in that people who eat a lot of eggs likely eat many other foods high in fat and cholesterol.  Further studies are needed to determine that eggs alone are the cause for increased cardiovascular risk.

The bottom-line for nurse practitioners?  We need to warn our patients, especially those with risk factors for heart disease of the dangers of consuming all foods high in cholesterol.  Painting a picture of the coronary artery plaque build-up associated with these foods as well as the impending risk of heart attack and stroke will help our patients make more informed decisions about their diets.

Omelet anyone?