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Once hailed as protein-rich miracles good for breakfast, lunch and dinner, eggs now seem to have fallen from grace. You have, no doubt, heard that eggs are bad for you. What you probably don't know is that one study went as far as to suggest they are as bad for you as cigarettes. What? Yes, really.
With new scientific studies on the health dangers of almost all your favorite foods being published all the time, it can be hard deciding what's still safe to eat. Thankfully, the outcomes of these studies are rarely as straightforward as "avoid all food". (That would kill too, and pretty quickly!).
Are you wondering whether to embrace or shun the oval treat? You are not alone.
Are Eggs Really As Bad As Cigarettes?
Researchers from Western University in Canada took a close look at the carotid arteries of over 1,200 patients, who were also quizzed about their lifestyle habits. In short, they found that aging, smoking, and eating egg yolks were all risk factors for an increase in arterial plaque. Eating eggs was found to have two thirds the effect of smoking.
Should You Stay Away From Eggs?
The facts that eggs contain cholesterol and that cholesterol is linked to heart disease are both fairly well known. One single large egg can make up as much as a third of your recommended daily cholesterol intake, since it willl contain about 180 mg. Eggs are the largest source of cholesterol in the American diet, but you are probably not going to eat that egg all by itself. Most people think of eggs primarily as a breakfast food, and many see bacon as the perfect companion to that boiled, scrambled, or fried egg.
The study mentioned above wasn't the only study conducted into the risks of egg consumption by any means, either. The Harvard Physicians Study was a much larger study that followed 20,000 doctors.Those doctors who ate at least one egg a day had a higher risk of all-cause mortality, implying that even an egg a day can take precious years off your life.
Eggs are also a source of salmonella poisoning. You really don't want a salmonella infection — it's the leading cause of food-poisoning related deaths in the US, but even "just" getting sick from such an infection is really unpleasant. Of course, there's no way to tell which eggs have been infected with salmonella bacteria.
But Eggs Aren't All Bad
If salmonella and cholesterol were all eggs contained, steering clear of them would pretty much be a no-brainer. Thankfully, there's plenty of other stuff in eggs besides cholesterol: protein, anti-oxidants, those "good" (unsaturated) fats that scientists keep telling you you need to prevent heart disease, vitamin E, and even omega-3 fatty acids, in the case of enriched eggs.