Eggs are one of the most lauded and celebrated foods in the dieting and fitness industry. Their benefits are countless, and it has been a staple breakfast food for many centuries in cultures around the world. The health benefits of eggs are countless, especially if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight.
The main reason eggs are so popular is because of its high protein content. One large egg can give you 6g of whole protein, which is very beneficial for people, especially those on a vegetarian diet. Because of their high protein and low-calorie content, eggs can make you feel satiated at lower calorie levels, helping you manage calorie consumption.
Although a current trend has been to only eat egg whites, it is more nutritious to eat the whole egg. Most of the nutrients such as essential vitamins and minerals are found in the egg yolk. The yolk is abundant with nutrients such as protein, Iron, Calcium, Vitamins A, D, B6, and B12.
Another reason why eggs are extremely popular is that they are so versatile in the number of dishes they can be used in, and the numerous cooking methods that could be used. You can boil, poach, fry, and scramble them as much as you like.
Eggs are also one of the few foods that you can eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner (not all on the same day of course!). They are also one of the cheapest sources of high-quality protein. So, they’re a nutritional star all around!
Perceived Risks of Egg Consumption
There has been some debate of some of the negative side effects of eggs and how many we should be eating per day, thanks to the high cholesterol content found in the egg yolk. One egg contains as much as 213mg of dietary cholesterol, which is 67% of the daily limit set by the American Heart Association (AHA). Because of this perceived side effect of eggs, they were shunned by dieters for a while.
High cholesterol is the biggest culprit in the development of cardiovascular diseases, so any food that was naturally high in dietary cholesterol was demonized in the media. But, scientists have come to learn recently that, this was only a part of the story.
They found that cholesterol that’s naturally found in foods like eggs are not nearly as bad as the cholesterol produced in our bodies when we consume a diet that’s very high in saturated and trans fats. Ever since these revelations, eggs have experienced a resurgence as one of the most popular breakfast foods.
The Nutritional Benefits of Eggs
To review the health benefits from eggs, we first need to look at its nutritional profile. A 100g of eggs (which is equivalent to two large eggs) contains:
Calories: 155 kcal
Total Fat: 11g (16 %DV)
Saturated Fat: 3.3g (16 %DV)
Cholesterol: 373mg (124 %DV)
Protein: 13g (26 %DV)
Potassium: 126 mg (3 %DV)
Vitamin A: 10 %DV
Calcium: 5 %DV
Iron: 6 %DV
Vitamin B-6: 5 %DV
Vitamin B-12: 18 %DV
Vitamin D: 21 %DV
Biotin: 27 %DV
So, as we can see, the most significant nutrients present in eggs are the essential vitamins, minerals and high protein content.
Protein: Eggs like most animal foods contain complete protein, which means it has all the essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Protein is undoubtedly an important nutrient we need to obtain from food.
Everything in your body, from the neurons in the brain, hormones in your body to muscle tissue, they all need protein for their development. Protein affects every aspect of our body’s function and structure.
Vitamin D: This is one of the vitamins that are a bit tricky to find in foods, especially for vegetarians. Vitamin D aids in the development of bones because they help your gut absorb more calcium, which is an essential mineral for bone development.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A aids in the development and maintenance of skin, soft tissue, teeth and mucus membranes in the body. It is also crucial for developing the pigments in the eye’s retina, allowing you to see better in the dark.
Biotin: Biotin is an essential component of protein metabolism and helps your body make hormones. Some evidence also shows that it can reduce hair loss, which is why it’s so popular in hair growth supplements.
Vitamin B12: This is a crucial vitamin that’s only found in animal sources. Hence, making eggs even more beneficial for vegetarians. B12 aids in the maintenance of a healthy nervous system, cell metabolism and the development of red blood cells. A deficiency of B12 can lead to pernicious anaemia which can be irreversible and deadly if left untreated.
Iron: Iron helps in the formation of haemoglobin in the red blood cells, which is what causes them to appear red. Hence, it helps with the transport and delivery of oxygen to cells in the body. Iron in animal products are slightly more bioavailable than those found in plant sources, so this is an excellent source for vegetarians as well.
Omega-3 fats: In some countries, it’s possible to find eggs that have been enriched with the essential fatty acid Omega-3. The chickens are fed grains such as flax seed that are naturally high in plant-based Omega-3s. The problem with plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids is that they’re not as bioavailable as those found in animal products such as oily fish. Hence, omega-3 enriched eggs are perfect for vegetarians since they don’t eat fish.
Apart from the direct nutritional benefits of eggs, there are other ways eggs can provide health benefits as well.
For example, some studies done in China had shown that people who ate eggs actually improved their cholesterol levels, contrary to the belief that eggs are bad for your cholesterol levels. Regular egg consumers had a 20% lower chance of developing heart disease. It is thought that, while eggs raise LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), they raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) much more. The ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol is what’s important in determining the risk of heart disease.