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Are eggs good or bad for your arteries?

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Do egg yolks clog your arteries? Or are they safe to eat with the whole egg? One study says eating egg yolks is almost as bad as smoking. Another says eating whole eggs doesn't raise your cholesterol if you already have insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, if you're on a moderately carbohydrate-restricted diet when you eat those whole eggs. So are whole eggs or yolks good or bad for you?

You have conflicting studies that report different outcomes of eating whole eggs. As a result, let your genes decide whether eating whole eggs are filling up your carotid arteries or supplying nutrients such as lutein and choline. See, LDL size distribution in relation to insulin sensitivity and lipoprotein pattern in young and healthy subjects.[Diabetes Care. 1998].

What if you have high insulin spikes, metabolic syndrome, and other degenerative diseases aging out and clogging your arteries and organs? You might take a look at the study, "Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome." The authors are Blesso, CN, et al. And the study is published in the journal Metabolism. March 2013.

Does your genetic predisposition determine whether to eat whole eggs or just egg whites? Or does the egg question apply to people with insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and those whose close relatives died early from plaque-clogged arteries?

In that study, the researchers investigated if daily egg feeding, along with carbohydrate restriction, would alter lipoprotein metabolism and influence atherogenic lipoprotein profiles and insulin resistance in men and women with metabolic syndrome (MetS). The hardening of the articles from being clogged with cholesterol/fat/calcium (atherogenic dyslipidemia) improved for all individuals as evidenced by reductions in plasma triglycerides, apoC-III, apoE, oxLDL, VLDL particle diameter, large VDL, total IDL, small LDL, and medium LDL particles (P<0.05), according to that study. See, Eggs distinctly modulate plasma carotenoid and lipoprotein subclasses in adult men following a carbohydrate-restricted diet.[J Nutr Biochem. 2010].

What the researchers saw were increases in HDL-cholesterol, large LDL and large HDL particles (P<0.05) for all individuals. But the good cholesterol increased. The researchers saw that there were greater increases in HDL-cholesterol and large HDL particles, and reductions in total VLDL and medium VLDL particles for those consuming EGG compared to SUB (P<0.05). See, Egg consumption modulates HDL lipid composition and increases the cholesterol-accepting capacity of serum in metabolic syndrome.[Lipids. 2013].

You want large, fluffy HDL and LDL particles

The reason you want large particles is so they remain fluffy and big enough not to get stuck in the arteries. But you also want large and fluffy LDL particles, large enough not to get trapped in the arteries and clog them up with plaque so the blood can't get through to circulate. See, Review Role of lipases, lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase and cholesteryl ester transfer protein in abnormal high density lipoprotein metabolism in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus.[Clin Lab. 2003].

The result of the study also found that plasma insulin and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were reduced, while LCAT activity, and both HDL and LDL diameters increased over time in the EGG group only (P<0.05). So the researcher's concluded that incorporating daily whole egg intake into a moderately carbohydrate-restricted diet provides further improvements in the atherogenic lipoprotein profile and in insulin resistance in individuals with MetS. See, Review Alterations in high-density lipoprotein metabolism and reverse cholesterol transport in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus: role of lipolytic enzymes, lecithin:cholesterol acyltransferase and lipid transfer proteins.[Eur J Clin Invest. 2003].

The diet here mentioned a moderately carb-restricted diet

That's important. Your atherogenic lipoprotein profile refers to the state of your arteries and how much plaque is clogging your arteries. A lot of people don't restrict carbs and also eat a lot of eggs, some using omelettes as a comfort food.

That's worse for insulin resistance when the carbs create high insulin surges after eating and the metabolic syndrome also means either high glucose levels after eating following by high insulin spikes, whether you're thin or obese. Some people are thin on the outside but filled with plaque on the inside of their arteries with organs surrounded by abdominal fat even with thin legs and arms.

That study revealed that whole eggs are better than egg substitutes such as egg whites where the yolks are removed. But egg substitutes are popular because of the fear that eating the cholesterol in the egg yolks may increase serum cholesterol levels.

People worry when some studies say that eating whole eggs has little effect on cholesterol levels. The big fear is when other studies say eating whole eggs could fill up the inside of your carotid arteries, cutting off the blood supply to your brain and elsewhere.

Scientists try to find out what will improve lipid (fat) metabolism and insulin resistance in people with metabolic syndrome

Nutritionists know that egg yolks have lutein and choline. But those avoiding eggs can take lutein in the green leafy vegetables and carrots they eat if they're vegans. As far as choline, you can take those choline supplements.

The lutein and choline mostly have been removed from egg substitutes. Now the question remains: Can eggs be included as part of a healthful diet for those whose arteries quickly fill up with plaque because early hardening of the arteries runs in the families? Other studies demonstrate how egg yolks can sped up coronary artery disease in ways similar to what smoking does to the body.

The problem here is the controversy of studies when another recent study showed that egg yolks can speed up hardening of the arteries

A recent study from researchers at Western University in Ontario, Canada demonstrates egg yolks can speed up atherosclerosis (coronary artery disease) similar to the effects of cigarette smoking. Dr. David Spence, BA, MBA, MD, FRCP, FAHA, FCAHS, Professor of Neurology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Director of its Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Centre (SPARC) at the Robarts Research Institute, lead author of study and colleagues examined information on 1,231 men and women, average age of 61.5 years and patients at vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Centre's University Hospital.

Check out the abstract of the study published online in the October 2012 issue, Volume 224, Issue 2, of the journal Atherosclerosis, "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque." Atherosclerosis is a build-up of fats and cholesterol in and on the artery walls (plaques) that can restrict blood flow. The plaques can burst triggering a blood clot but is often linked to heart problems like heart attack and stroke according to information from the Mayo Clinic.

Patients had received questionnaires concerning their lifestyle, medications and number of packs of cigarettes smoked per year, also an ultrasound had been used to determine a measurement of total plaque area. The researchers found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after age 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years according to the press release or putting it simply compared to age, both tobacco smoke and egg yolk consumption speed up atherosclerosis.

The research also had revealed those participants who consumed three or more egg yolks a week had a greater plaque area compared to those who consumed two or less egg yolks a week

Dr. Spence stated “The mantra 'eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people' has confused the issue. It has been known for a long time that a high cholesterol intake increases the risk of cardiovascular events, and egg yolks have very high cholesterol content. In diabetics, an egg a day increases coronary risk by two to five-fold.” "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. In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay for most Canadians.”

In closing Dr. Spence had added the effect of egg yolk consumption over time on increasing the amount of plaque on the arteries was separate of other factors such as sex, blood pressure, smoking, BMI and diabetes. Dr. Spence notes that more research should be done taking in possible con-founders such as exercise and waist circumference. He does stress that regular consumption of egg yolks should not be consumed by those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease. This study, "Egg consumption and coronary disease:\

Also see, "Letter to the editor regarding Chagas P, Caramori P, Galdino TP, Barcellos CS, Gomes I, Schwanke CH. Egg consumption and coronary atherosclerotic burden." Atherosclerosis. August 2013. The letter to the editor is published in the August 13, 2013 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis.

Vegans can check out the study on plant sterols and stanols and prevention of cardiovascular disease

Vegans can check out the abstract of another study, "Plant sterols and plant stanols in the management of dyslipidaemia and prevention of cardiovascular disease," in the February 2014 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis. A lot of people question whether such diseases can be prevented or delayed depending on the genes or whether the genes leading to early hardening of the arteries can be switched off or on by food? According to information from Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Thomas Behrenbeck, MD, PhD, eggs are high in cholesterol and can add to high blood cholesterol levels. Consuming four or less egg yolks a week has not been found to increase the risk for heart disease.

If you are healthy the recommendation is to limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300mg a day. However, if you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or high low-density lipoprotein; the bad cholesterol LDL, the limit for dietary cholesterol should be less than 200mg daily.

In easy terms one large egg contains 186mg of cholesterol which is all in the yolk. You can either just use the whites of the egg or purchase cholesterol-free eggs such as Egg Beaters which are 99% egg whites.

Protecting the antioxidants in eggs

Do most cooks prepare eggs gingerly, with great caution, care, and delicacy to preserve the antioxidants in the eggs? You can view Dr. Mercola's January 13, 2014 article, "Organic, Cage-Free, Free-Range or Pastured... Sorting Through the Confusion on Egg Labels." What color is the egg yolk? You can tell the eggs are free range or pastured by the color of the egg yolk.

Carotid plaque goes up steeply with age, if you're predisposed to yolks clogging your arteries, do you really need those yolks? The whites are protein and don't clog arteries like the yolks might, depending on your age, but egg whites might irritate aging arteries. But if yolks don't build up in your arteries because you're still young enough or don't have the genetic risks, look for bright orange yolks instead of light yellow yolks.

Foraged hens produce eggs with bright orange yolks. You'll see eggs with orange yolks on farms in some European countries. Dull, pale, lemon yellow yolks are a sign that the eggs come from caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet. Cornucopia.org offers a helpful organic egg scorecard that rates egg manufacturers based on 22 criteria that are important for organic consumers.

Do most cooks conflate various recipes?

(The act of conflating consists of combining as two readings of a recipe or other text) into a composite whole. Be careful not to conflate gossip with real news, when it comes to various recipes on how best to cook eggs to preserve the dense nutrients and antioxidants in the eggs. Let's take a look at what free-range eggs are.

Sometimes they're called pasture-raised or pastured eggs from roaming hens outdoors in a pasture foraging for seeds, greens, worms, and bugs. Does it occur to you how much time the hens spend outdoors? What about the space outdoors? Do the hens really have access to those spaces for enough time each day? And what the hen eats, is it the organic, pasture diet? Or are the greens the hens peck at sprayed with all types of chemicals and run-off toxins?

Are you eating eggs from certified organic poultry?

Not everyone who keeps chickens can afford to have their ranch certified organic. If poultry is certified organic, it is supposed to be 100 percent guaranteed to be free of antibiotics and added hormones. You could get your eggs from a local farmer where you can see that the hens are foraging outdoors and have this type of freedom for enough time each day.

The fats from animals do contain cholesterol. But if you fry your eggs or scramble them in a skillet with fats or oils, the heat oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg. You don't want that type of fat in our arteries. You may be better off poaching your eggs in simmering or boiling broth or water just until the eggs become solid. Or use an egg poacher that you don't have to grease heavily to steam the egg from the boiling water below in the bottom of the double boiler or small egg poaching pan. Don't microwave eggs, either. It destroys a lot of the antioxidants.

How do you cook eggs to best preserve their antioxidants and nutrition?

You can use either vegetable broth you make by boiling celery, onions, and carrots in water to create a flavorful broth, or low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth. Or you can poach eggs in an egg poacher with boiling water on the bottom warming up the egg-sized double boiler on top, as if you're steaming the eggs.

Or make egg drop soup or egg flower soup by dropping eggs or even egg whites into boiling broth, soup, or water. You can eat soft-boiled eggs to preserve the antioxidants in the eggs, but be sure the yolks aren't harboring salmonella or other toxic bacteria. Check with the local farmer and with the local Department of Health or the USDA to see whether eggs from that farmer have been recalled due to bacterial contamination or other conditions.

Do you believe that eggs with the yolks full of saturated fats promote heart disease?

You can check out the abstract of a recent study, "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque," published in the journal Atherosclerosis, October 2012. Increasingly the potential harm from high cholesterol intake, and specifically from egg yolks, is considered insignificant. Researchers assessed total plaque area (TPA) in patients attending Canadian vascular prevention clinics to determine if the atherosclerosis burden, as a marker of arterial damage, was related to egg intake.

To provide perspective on the magnitude of the effect, researchers also analyzed the effect of smoking (pack-years). findings suggest that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers noted that this hypothesis should be tested in a prospective study with more detailed information about diet, and other possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference.

Carotid total plaque area (TPA) increases linearly with age

The total plaque area (TPA) increases exponentially with smoking pack-years. And the total plaque area (TPA) increases exponentially with egg-yolk years. The effect size of egg yolks appears to be approximately 2/3 that of smoking. Probably egg yolks should be avoided by persons at risk of vascular disease, the study observes.

Other studies have shown that eating eggs won't raise your cholesterol levels. But most tests were done with two eggs rather than a dozen eggs as some people eat at a sitting when frying omelettes. It's the frying that destroys the antioxidants in the eggs. You could put one or two raw eggs in a smoothie or vegetable juice in a blender, if the eggs are organic and you know for sure those particular eggs are free from salmonella.

On the other hand, regardless of how you cook eggs or eat them raw, the question is can the yolk can turn to plaque in your arteries, especially the carotid arteries in your neck and coronary arteries, if you're predisposed to any risk of developing cardiovascular disease as you age or at different ages for different people due to genetic variations? And the studies keep coming out, many of them conflicting as to what egg yolks do to your body, depending on what your health condition or predisposition is like.

How to cook your eggs is important

For those who can eat eggs without genetic risks, where the eggs come from are vital to know. Factory farming too often is abusive to the chicken. The terms "cage-free" or "free-range" can mean that the poultry is not confined to an individual cage. But these labels say nothing about the conditions they are raised in, which may be deplorable.

For more information on the difference between organic, cage-free. free range, and pasture-raised eggs and chickens, check out the article, "Organic, Cage-Free, Free-Range or Pastured... Sorting Through the Confusion on Egg Labels." Also see the site, "Free-range eggs."

What you don't want in your eggs are veterinary drug contamination

Look for chicken and eggs that are both certified organic and true pasture-raised. A lot of small farmers don't have the money for organic certification. If you're looking at farms to find eggs, you could research any evidence that the farmer raises chickens according to organic, free-range standards. The point is whether the chickens forage freely for their natural diet, and aren't fed antibiotics, corn and soy. Chickens that are fed GMO corn and GMO soy is not what you want to see in chicken feed.

You want to make sure the chickens aren't contaminated with all sorts of veterinary drugs. If the farm has certified organic accreditation it means the chicken is free from unnatural additives and processes. If you look at most brands of eggs in local supermarkets, they usually don't have such accreditation. You also can notice if the store manager puts at eye level the unnatural eggs and either up high or at foot level the certified organic eggs and whether the certified organic eggs are grade A or AA.

If eggs are certified organic, it means the chickens and eggs are free from antibiotics

Numerous farmers feed chickens antibiotics and other fillers to make them gain weight or even to prevent diseases. For example, chickens can be labeled as free range but still treated with antibiotics under the direction of veterinarians. The animal feed could be full of coccidiostats, which is a chemical agent put into the chicken feed. If you want to learn more on this topic, check out the e-book or website, Eat Yourself Healthy in 28 Days - Sally Joseph.

The point is testing confirmed that true free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs, possibly because of the diet differences between free ranging, pastured, and commercially farmed chickens. Research published in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that, in healthy adults, eating eggs every day did not produce a negative effect on endothelial function (an aggregate measure of cardiac risk); nor did it increase cholesterol levels, notes the article, "Organic, Cage-Free, Free-Range or Pastured... Sorting Through the Confusion on Egg Labels."

That article also notes that fresh, pastured eggs with an intact cuticle don't need refrigeration as long as you're planning to eat them right away. Certain types of eggs in other countries may be unrefrigerated for a week. But don't try this at home. In the USA, eggs need to be refrigerated at 40 degrees F, where they can keep for a month. But be aware by the time the eggs reach your local food market, they may be a month old, maybe three weeks old.

Food market eggs were not just laid yesterday in most cases

If you check the address of the farm on the back of the egg carton, you'll see in many cases of eggs in local supermarkets, that the farm is in some faraway state, unless you're buying local eggs and you're familiar with the farm, and the eggs are in a natural food store that buys eggs from local farmers. You also can check out the Polyface Farm Web site to see some details on raising chickens.

The question for people with high cholesterol who are told don't eat eggs because they'll clog your arteries since you already have the genes for arteries to quickly clog once you start eating animal products, oils, or eggs (other than a spoon of flax seed meal daily), check with your health care team to see whether eggs are clogging you or not. There's always the egg whites for protein, if they don't irritate your arteries. See the sites, "Egg Yolks Almost as Bad for Arteries as Smoking: Study - US News " and "Egg Yolks, Smoking Clog Arteries Similarly, Says Study." Then decide what's best for your genes based on how your body, including your genes respond to various foods.

Yolks can stiffen your arteries: Eggs are bad for some people's arteries, particularly if you're older and have a family predisposition to plaque building up in your carotids and/or coronary arteries

The August 15, 2012 US News article "Egg Yolks Almost as Bad for Arteries as Smoking: Study" explains, that whether boiled, scrambled or sunny-side up, cholesterol-rich egg yolks can stiffen your arteries almost as much as smoking, the August 2012 study suggests. The study leader was Dr. David Spence. professor of neurology at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada, who explained in the article that, "people at risk of vascular disease should not eat egg yolks."

The article notes that cholesterol found in an egg's yellow center can even clog the carotid artery leading to the brain, upping risks for stroke, Spence pointed out. The reason, the article notes, is that carotid plaque goes up steeply with age. You can check out the abstract of the recent study, "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque," published in the journal Atherosclerosis, October 2012 or online in August 2012.

If you're a senior citizen, do you need yolks? Be aware of your predisposition to vascular disease as you age. Should you be vegan after a certain age? You can check out the report published online in August 2012 in the journal Atherosclerosis. See, You can check out the abstract of a recent study, "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque," published in the journal Atherosclerosis, October 2012.

For other studies on similar health topics, also see, "Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease - Proceedings from the SITeCS Meeting." Or see, "Update on marine omega-3 fatty acids: Management of dyslipidemia and current omega-3 treatment options."

Egg yolk consumption almost as bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis

Recently published research in August 2012, led by Dr. David Spence of Western University, Canada, shows that eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes. Surveying more than 1200 patients, Dr. Spence found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. The research is published online, August 2012, in the journal Atherosclerosis. You can check out the abstract of the recent study, "Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque," published in the journal Atherosclerosis, in print, October 2012.

Atherosclerosis, also called coronary artery disease, is a disorder of the arteries where plaques, aggravated by cholesterol, form on the inner arterial wall. Plaque rupture is the usual cause of most heart attacks and many strokes. The study looked at data from 1231 men and women, with a mean age of 61.5, who were patients attending vascular prevention clinics at London Health Sciences Center's University Hospital.

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 times the number of years consumed (egg yolk-years).

The researchers found carotid plaque area increased linearly with age after age 40, but increased exponentially with pack-years of smoking and egg yolk-years

In other words, compared to age, both tobacco smoking and egg yolk consumption accelerate atherosclerosis. The study also found those eating three or more yolks a week had significantly more plaque area than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week.

"The mantra 'eggs can be part of a healthy diet for healthy people' has confused the issue. 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. In diabetics, an egg a day increases coronary risk by two to five-fold," says Dr. Spence, a Professor of Neurology at Western's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the Director of its Stroke Prevention and Atherosclerosis Research Center (SPARC) at the Robarts Research Institute, according to the August 13, 2012 news release, Egg yolk consumption almost as bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis.

"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. In the long haul, egg yolks are not okay for most Canadians."

Dr. Spence adds the effect of egg yolk consumption over time on increasing the amount of plaque in the arteries was independent of sex, cholesterol, blood pressure, smoking, body mass index and diabetes

And while he says, according to the news release, that more research should be done to take in possible confounders such as exercise and waist circumference, he emphasizes that regular consumption of egg yolk should be avoided by persons at risk of cardiovascular disease.

So you have some doctors saying egg yolk-caused hardening of the carotid and other arteries is a myth, and other researchers saying to avoid it if your genes and family history point to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. About six percent of the population can eat almost any diet and thrive.

The rest of us either have inherited the genes that predispose us to fill up and clog when eating certain types of food, or we have inherited the genes that don't fill up the arteries so fast. But be aware that as a person ages, the body changes so that plaque fills up arteries faster, if there's the risk, and the risk is in the genes and the environment.

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