Eating egg yolks could be as damaging to your health as smoking cigarettes, a Canadian study has revealed.
The cholesterol found in egg yolks accelerate atherosclerosis - otherwise known as coronary artery disease, where cholesterol builds up in the arteries - at almost two-thirds of the rate of smoking.
In turn this build-up increases the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
The study was carried out by Canadian researchers and examined 1,231 patients with an average age of 61. It took place at London's Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital where patients were attending vascular prevention clinics.
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Ultrasound was used to establish a measurement of total plaque area and questionnaires were filled out regarding their lifestyle and medications including pack-years of smoking (number of packs per day of cigarettes times the number of years), and the number of egg yolks consumed per week multiplied by the number of years consumed (egg yolk-years).
"It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have a very high cholesterol content," said Dr. Spence, the Director of the Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) at the Robarts Research Institute, in a statement.
"What we have shown is that with aging, plaque builds up gradually in the arteries of Canadians, and egg yolks make it build up faster - about two-thirds as much as smoking."