Boiled, poached, or scrambled – eggs are a great way to start your day. These little orbs are a superior source of protein.
Eggs are one of the few foods with complete protein, which means they contain all nine essential amino acids required by the body. They are packed with numerous vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B12, D, and E and folate, choline, selenium, and others.
According to Dr. Sears, a leading authority in anti-inflammatory nutrition, author of the Zone Diet book series, and president of the nonprofit Inflammation Research Foundation, “Egg whites are a good source of high-quality protein and are very low cost compared with animal protein.”
Eggs gained a bad reputation due to the high cholesterol content in the yellow yolks. Recent studies demonstrate that while eating eggs may somewhat increase levels of LDL (“bad” cholesterol), eggs also help raise HDL (“good”cholesterol), which protects against heart disease. According to Courtney Schuchmann, MS, RD, LDN, “The dietary cholesterol in eggs is not correlated with an increase in serum cholesterol.”
For most people, eggs no longer need to be avoided for fear of cholesterol or heart disease. When included as part of a healthy diet, they provide several benefits. It is always a good idea to talk to your doctor about your specific
dietary needs based on your medical history and medications.
Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, Doctor of Pharmacy, functional medicine practitioner, and gut/hormone health expert, says, “It’s best to consume organic eggs to decrease the chance of added antibiotics. Free range and pasture raised are also preferred since the chickens are healthier and the nutrition is denser.”
Here are some health benefits of eggs.
1. Boosts Brain Power
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, and choline, eggs are wonderful for the brain. Choline is an essential nutrient that plays an important role in several metabolic and neural pathways; a high intake of choline is shown to reduce the risk of age-related dementia.
Vitamin B12 is essential for the proper functioning of the brain. A lack of this nutrient may lead to brain shrinkage, which may have implications for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one large egg contains about 0.45 mcg of vitamin B12, which is 18.75% of the recommended daily requirement of this vitamin.
Vitamin D, which is found in very few foods other than eggs, also improves brain function and may protect against cognitive decline.
2. Aids in Maintaining a Healthy Weight
The long-standing tradition of eating eggs for breakfast can help maintain a healthy body weight due to the impact of protein on the feeling of fullness. Eggs provide sustained energy, as opposed to refined carbohydrates, which may cause you to “crash” mid-morning. Eating eggs in place of a high-carbohydrate breakfast is associated with greater satiety and lower calorie intake later in the day.
According to Dr. Allison Childress, Assistant Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Texas Tech University, “Egg consumption at breakfast has also been shown to enhance weight loss when following a reduced-calorie diet. This may be due to the satiety value of eggs, the quality of protein in eggs, or a combination of the two. Additionally, eggs are an inexpensive source of protein when compared with other proteins of similar quality.”
3. Protects Eye Health
Eggs are also a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which help reduce age-related macular degeneration. Research has shown that these carotenoids are beneficial in preventing macular degeneration and reducing the risk of cataracts.
These antioxidant compounds help protect your eyes from free radical damage from aging and the sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Although these beneficial compounds are also abundant in several fruits and vegetables, the natural fat content from the eggs helps your body digest and absorb the compounds better.
4. Facilitates Muscle Building
The synthesis of muscle protein is maximized in young adults with 20–25 g of high-quality protein intake. The protein that is consumed above this amount is believed to be either oxidized for energy or transaminated to form urea and other organic acids.
Eggs are considered an excellent food for muscle building because they are high in protein, which is the building block of muscles. The protein in eggs is highly bioavailable, which means your body is able to process it and absorb it
much better than it would with most other foods.
“A meal with eggs eaten after exercise can help aid in muscle recovery by providing the essential amino acids necessary to repair tissues and aid in gaining strength,” says Julie Upton, MS, RD, registered dietitian and co-founder of Appetite for Health.
The practice of eating raw or lightly cooked eggs to build better muscles is not recommended as it can cause food poisoning due to salmonella bacteria. To reduce this risk, opt for pasteurized and cooked eggs. Hard-boiled eggs are a convenient way to increase your intake of this exceptional superfood.
5. Improves Your Mood
Eggs, high in vitamin B12, can help improve your mood and keep stress at bay. They contain an array of other B vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and folate, which promote your mental and emotional well-being.
There is strong evidence that omega-3 fatty acids exert antidepressant effects in people. In addition, some of the amino acids (including methionine, cysteine, and tryptophan) in eggs impact important factors like sleep, serotonin levels, and alertness.
6. Lowers the Risk of Cancer
A study by researchers at the University of Alberta suggests that eggs have antioxidant properties that tend to lower the risk of developing cancer and prevent cardiovascular disease.
In particular, egg yolks contain two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, both of which have antioxidant properties.
The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology published a study that indicates that consuming foods high in choline, like eggs, may reduce the risk of breast cancer and help lower mortality rates in those already diagnosed with breast cancer.
7. Helps with Healthy Pregnancy
Eggs are considered a healthy food to eat during pregnancy. In addition to providing adequate nutrition, they may improve an infant’s ability to learn due to an important nutrient, choline, which plays a critical role in fetal brain development and memory.
A recently published study from Cornell University provides evidence that infants who were exposed to a higher level of maternal choline during the third trimester were found to have higher information processing speed, a way of measuring intelligence during the first year of life.
During pregnancy, it is extremely important to only consume eggs that are pasteurized and cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
8. Strengthens Bones
Eggs help keep your bones and teeth strong as they contain phosphorus, vitamin D, and calcium. While it is well known that calcium is important for our bones, vitamin D is an important regulator that acts like a hormone in the intestines and bones.
Vitamin D deficiency results in soft bones that are prone to breakage.
Phosphorus is another important mineral found in eggs that plays a key role with calcium in creating and maintaining bone strength.
Calcium or calcium in combination with vitamin D supplementation has proven to be beneficial in the preventive treatment of osteoporosis in people aged 50 years or above. A minimum dose of 1200 mg of calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D is recommended to achieve the best therapeutic effect.
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