From its ancient roots as a simple but important food staple the world over to its unfair vilification as a cholesterol-enhancing, artery-clogging villain, the humble egg has long been overlooked and under-appreciated. The truth is, eggs are actually packed full of powerful nutrients, some of which are extremely rare in modern diets. In fact, they are one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
Eggs are cheap, versatile and often taken for granted – used in beverages, meals, on toast and in dessert and cake recipes. They are an inexpensive source of high quality, low calorie protein, nutrients and vitamins that have a myriad of health benefits that you probably don’t know about, from aiding weight loss and improving brain health to promoting healthy bones, teeth, hair and nails!
Boil It, Poach It, Scramble It Or Fry It
This classic breakfast option can be cooked in many ways. However, while it was being fried up with bacon, sausages and black pudding in an English breakfast, or accompanied by white bread toast, most people didn’t realize it could actually be a healthy breakfast or meal option. Ditch the white bread and processed meat, and replace them with avocado, and you’ve got a super nutritious, filling, nourishing breakfast that will keep you energized and satisfied for hours.
Here are 7 of the top benefits of eggs for your health that you probably don’t know about…
1. Eggs Are Packed Full Of Nutrients
With 22 per cent of your recommended daily intake of selenium and 15 per cent of your daily Vitamin B2, one organic free-range egg has all the vital ingredients you need to give yourself a daily health boost. After all, they hold all the nutrients needed to turn a cell into a chicken!
An egg contains vitamins A, B2, B5, B6, B12, D, E and K, Folate, Phosphorus, Selenium, calcium, zinc, choline and iron, as well as 6.5 grams of high-quality protein and 5 grams of healthy fats. And all of that comes with just 70 to 80 calories.
The fresher and more natural your eggs are, the more protein-rich they will be, which is why you should always look for organic and free-range. If you can find Omega-3 enriched eggs or pastured eggs, you will get an even higher dose of vitamins A and E.
2. Eggs Aid Weight Loss
You might be surprised to learn that eggs can actually help you lose weight, considering they were vilified for decades as fattening and unhealthy. Eggs substantially satisfy hunger and keep you full for longer than a number of other breakfast food options, and that’s with just 70 to 80 calories each. That means you are likely to consume fewer calories for the rest of the day than if you eat a carb-loaded breakfast, such as a bagel, for example. Because they keep you fuller for longer, they can also curb cravings between meals. Research from the Rochester Center for Obesity Research found that eating eggs for breakfast decreased calorie intake by more than 400 calories a day, which they equated to losing three pounds or more a month.
3. Serious Source Of Inexpensive Protein
Want to build strong, lean muscles without relying on supplements? One low calorie egg provides around 6.5 grams of high quality protein in just 70 to 80 calories. An average woman, for example, needs 50 grams of protein per day, so eating three eggs would cover nearly half of that need. Of all the protein-rich foods there are, eggs are amongst the highest quality and best value per dollar and per calorie.
4. Full Of Essential Minerals
As well as their impressive protein value, eggs contain important minerals, including iron, zinc, phosphorus, iodine and selenium, which are vital for body function. Zinc is important for the immune system and turns food into energy, phosphorus keeps bones and teeth strong and healthy, iodine contributes to thyroid hormone production, and selenium promotes healthy hair and nails.
5. Eggs Raise Good Cholesterol
Cholesterol was a dirty word for a number of decades, and with it, eggs got an extremely bad rap because of their high cholesterol content. However, at the turn of the century, the American Heart Association revised its guidelines to include eggs in a healthy adult’s diet, and, over time, other organizations followed suit.
Eggs are high in cholesterol. In fact, one large egg contains about 213 mg of cholesterol, which is two-thirds of the daily recommended limit. However, dietary cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol in most people, and the risk of raising harmful cholesterol is minimal compared to a mix of fats in the diet. The liver actually produces large amounts of cholesterol every day, and eating foods that contain cholesterol simply decreases that natural production of it in the body. That means there is not necessarily any extra cholesterol in the body; instead, naturally produced cholesterol is replaced by consumed cholesterol.
It’s also important to be aware that different people respond differently to cholesterol intake. For example, eggs do not raise cholesterol at all in around 70 per cent of the population, while in the other 30 per cent, eggs can raise Total and LDL (bad) cholesterol slightly. Good cholesterol, officially called High density Lipoprotein (HDL), can also be raised by eating eggs. This cholesterol type travels through the bloodstream removing bad cholesterol from places it doesn’t belong, and along with it, reducing the risk of heart disease.
6. Build Stronger Teeth And Bones
Eggs are rich in calcium and phosphorus, which are extremely helpful in building and maintaining teeth and bone strength. Calcium cannot build strong bones and tissues on its own, as previously thought. It needs phosphorus to increase its bone-strengthening benefits, which is why eggs, having both, are great for teeth and bones. More than half of all bone is made up of phosphate, while small amounts also maintain tissues and fluids in the body.
The Vitamin D found in eggs also helps to protect bones, which can aid in the prevention of bone-weakening diseases, such as osteoporosis and rickets. Researchers are still working out the exact role of Vitamin D in the development of strong bones, but the general consensus is that, because Vitamin D also helps absorb calcium, it slows bone loss.
7. Eggs Increase Brain Health
The omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12 and D, and choline in eggs make them exceptionally beneficial in feeding a healthy brain.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health, but the body cannot produce them by itself, meaning you have to get them through food or supplements. As well as reducing inflammation, Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis, as well as being important for brain memory and performance. You can actually find Omega-3 enriched eggs, which are like conventional eggs, but the laying chickens’ feed is supplemented with an Omega-3 food, like flaxseeds, for example. As well as having more Omega-3, which people often don’t get enough of in modern diets, the enriched eggs were found to have 39 per cent less inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acid, called Arachidonic Acid, that most people eat too much of.
- Choline works by stimulating key neurotransmitter Acetylcholine production, which is an essential nutrient responsible for memory and mental clarity.
- Vitamin B12 is also essential for brain functionality because it helps maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency is most common in older adults and vegetarians, and can lead to memory loss. Research suggests that a lack of this vitamin may cause shrinking of the brain, potentially leading to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in some people.
So, What About Duck Eggs and Quail Eggs?
We’re used to the traditional chicken eggs, but have you considered getting a bit more adventurous with your choice of eggs?
Duck eggs are actually higher in protein, calcium, iron and potassium than chicken eggs and taste very similar – just a little richer. When boiled, the white turns a light blue color and the yolk turns red-orange.
Quail eggs, on the other hand, are a lot smaller – five quail eggs equate to about one large chicken egg in size. The shells are speckled and can be dark brown, blue or white in color. In the US, they are considered a gourmet food option, and they are packed with vitamins and minerals. Quail eggs are 13 per cent protein, compared to 11 per cent in chicken eggs, and contain more than twice the amount of Vitamin B1 of chicken eggs, gram-for-gram. They are also a fantastic option for people with allergies to chicken eggs because they are not known to cause allergies.
Take Home Message
Whether you start out by adding more of the traditional chicken egg into your diet, or venture into the wonderful world of gourmet eggs like duck or quail, the verdict is: eggs will increase your overall health, from brain functionality and energy levels to teeth and bone strength, and keep you fuller for longer, potentially aiding weight loss.
Always look for organic, free-range eggs and make sure they are as fresh as possible to ensure you’re getting the as many nutrients as possible per egg.