Eat eggs and you'll increase your intake of high-quality, easily digestible protein, as well as the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which keep your eyes healthy, and choline, which is important for keeping your nerves and brain functioning properly. However, egg yolks are relatively high in cholesterol and may increase your risk for clogged arteries, so you probably shouldn't eat them every day.
1. Eggs and Atherosclerosis
Regularly eating egg yolks may increase plaque buildup in your arteries, causing them to become clogged, a condition called atherosclerosis. Participants in a study published in "Atherosclerosis" in October 2012 who ate more than three eggs per week had more plaque buildup in their arteries than those who usually ate no more than two egg yolks per week.
2. Potential Mechanisms
While the cholesterol in egg yolks may not cause your cholesterol levels to rise, it does have other adverse effects, according to an article published in the "Canadian Journal of Cardiology" in November 2010. This cholesterol may increase the adverse effects of saturated fat, increase the amount of triglycerides in your blood and make the low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, in your blood more likely to become oxidized. The oxidation of LDL may make it more likely to cause clogged arteries.
3. Limiting the Risk
Some types of eggs may actually help limit clogged arteries, although the research on this is still in the preliminary stages. A study published in January 2008 in the "British Journal of Nutrition" found that eggs enriched with conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, had an anti-inflammatory effect and helped reduce the amount of plaque in the arteries of mice. If you can't find this type of egg, you can use egg whites or egg substitutes to replace at least part of the whole eggs you consume, especially if you have a high risk for heart disease.
4. Recommended Consumption
Approximately 25 percent of the cholesterol in the typical American diet comes from eggs and egg dishes, according to MayoClinic.com. A single egg yolk contains 185 milligrams of cholesterol, which means you should watch your cholesterol intake carefully the rest of the day when you eat eggs to stay within the recommended limit of 300 milligrams per day for healthy people and 200 milligrams per day for people at risk for heart disease. FamilyDoctor.org recommends consuming no more than four egg yolks per week for a heart-healthy diet. However, if you are at risk for heart disease, the November 2010 "Canadian Journal of Cardiology" article recommends avoiding egg yolks.
- Atherosclerosis: Egg Yolk Consumption and Carotid Plaque
- British Journal of Nutrition: Functional Effects of Eggs, Naturally Enriched With Conjugated Linoleic Acid, on the Blood Lipid Profile, Development of Atherosclerosis and Composition of Atherosclerotic Plaque ...
- Canadian Journal of Cardiology: Dietary Cholesterol and Egg Yolks: Not for Patients at Risk of Vascular Disease
- Family Doctor: Coronary Artery Disease
- MayoClinic.com: Eggs and Heart Disease — Still Controversial
- North Dakota State University Extension: Prairie Fare: Enjoy an ‘Egg-stravaganza’ of Good Nutrition
- Methods in Molecular Biology: Oxidized Low-Density Lipoprotein
- Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images