Egg-eaters beware: A recent Western University study indicates that regular consumption of egg yolks is almost as bad for your heart as smoking. That’s largely because eggs are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, which can clog your arteries and raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke.
Researchers believe that eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis, or coronary artery disease, much as smoking does. Study participants who ate three or more egg yolks a week had significantly more plaque than those who ate two or fewer yolks per week. According to the lead researcher, plaque can gradually build up in your arteries as you age, and it will build up faster if you eat egg yolks—about two-thirds as fast as smoking. Over the long haul, he says, egg yolks aren’t particularly healthy.
Eggs just aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. One study shows that men who eat 2.5 eggs per week raise their risk of prostate cancer by 81 percent compared with men who consume less than half an egg per week. Studies also show that pregnant women who consume eggs have a much higher rate of developing gestational diabetes.
Eggs are often contaminated with salmonella bacteria, which flourish on filthy, crowded egg farms. Most egg-laying hens are confined to sheds containing row upon row of tiny wire-mesh cages. Each bird has less living space than a letter-size sheet of paper—not even enough room to stretch a single wing. The birds never breathe fresh air, feel grass beneath their feet, tend to their eggs, or engage in any other natural behavior.
Farmers cut a portion of each hen’s sensitive beak off with a hot blade—without pain relievers—to prevent the birds from pecking at one another out of stress and deprivation. Since male birds are useless to hatcheries—because they don’t produce eggs and are too small to be used profitably for their flesh—they’re ground up alive or suffocated in trash bags.
When hens can no longer produce as many eggs, they’re sent to the slaughterhouse, where they’re often scalded to death in the tanks of water used for feather removal.
People who don’t want to contribute to such cruelty can enjoy healthy, humane, and delicious vegan foods instead of eggs. Scrambled, seasoned tofu goes great with soy sausage, fruit, or whole-wheat toast, and Ener-G Egg Replacer, a cholesterol-free powdered mix, can be used in place of eggs in baked goods for binding and leavening. Bananas or canned pumpkin can also be used instead of eggs in baking for added moisture and richness. Check out this list of egg replacers and egg-free recipes for more ideas.