Believe it or not, eggs have been a topic of great debate among health specialists lately, namely due to concerns over their cholesterol content. While the United States’ Department of Agriculture’s current Dietary Guidelines for Americans maintain that eggs are an outstanding source of dietary protein, recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2019 established a link between eggs and an increased risk of heart disease and a shorter lifespan. Are eggs actually worthy of their health halo, you may ask? Many concerned breakfast lovers are not aware, however, that this newfound link between eggs and cardiovascular disease hinges on someone eating upwards of a dozen eggs in a single week; so unless you’re consuming three or four eggs every day, don’t go throwing out your cartons just yet.
One of the best sources of protein available in your kitchen, eggs are chock-full of essential nutrients such as vitamins A, D, B12, and an under-the-radar essential known as choline. They’re also an inexpensive and versatile staple, so don’t let misconceptions about cholesterol or saturated fats stop you from making them for breakfast, brunch, or Brinner! We’re highlighting the best health benefits associated with eggs below. Plus, we’re tackling all of the chatter around eggs with a list of FAQs — including what you really need to know about egg whites.
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A large egg contains the following, according to the USDA: 72 calories
5g total fat
1.5g saturated fat (8% DV)
69mg potassium (1% DV)
6mg magnesium (1% DV)
0.8mg iron (3% DV)
0.08mg vitamin B6 (5% DV)
0.45 mcg vitamin B12 (10% DV)
270 IU vitamin A
41 IU vitamin D (11% DV)
What are the health benefits of eating eggs?
They boost brain health. Eggs are chock full of choline, an essential nutrient crucial for healthy memory, mood, and muscle control, says Michelle Hoeing Bauche, MS, RDN, a clinical dietitian in the bariatric services division of the University of Missouri Health Care system. “Choline is in the B vitamin family…and is fairly ‘new’ compared to other nutrients that have been studied and researched,” she says. “Consuming choline through foods like eggs may actually help to prevent things like cardiovascular disease, early brain dysfunction such as dementia, and fatty liver disease.”
But you won’t get choline’s health edge by simply taking supplements; Bauche says that some research shows that choline on it’s own doesn’t have much of an effect on preventing these conditions, most likely “because most nutrients act synergistically with one another and rarely alone.” Your best bet is to incorporate choline-rich foods into regular rotation in the kitchen. Eggs and other dairy items are the best source, Bauche says, followed by beef liver, shiitake mushrooms, fatty-rich salmon, and beans, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables on a smaller scale.
They safeguard pregnant women. During pregnancy, choline intake is critical for fetal brain development and can help prevent birth defects. “Research suggests that as many as 90 percent of pregnant women may not be consuming adequate amounts of choline,” Bauche says, adding that clinical studies have found that pregnant women who eat upwards of 900mg of choline (double the recommended daily intake) may boost cognitive development in their children later on. “While most people are aware that folate plays a role in preventing neural tube defects, choline actually plays an equally important role, since it also aids in the synthesis of cell membranes and neurotransmission.” Two large eggs contain more than 50% of the recommended choline intake for pregnant women. Vitamin B12 is another essential nutrient required for red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. B12 is almost exclusively found naturally in animal products, so if you’re vegetarian, eggs can help meet your B12 needs. They can help manage weight loss over time. Research has linked meals higher in protein to keeping you fuller, longer. Published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition , a 2004 review suggests that protein-rich foods (including eggs!) is the most filling option available at mealtime, even with smaller portions compared to other nutrients. Plus, lean protein like eggs are lower in calories than higher-fat cuts of meat and poultry. They can preserve vision and eye health. Eggs also contain a crucial chemical compound known as carotenoids that are normally found in fruits and vegetables — and these nutrients can help boost the immune system over time, according to Anne-Marie Gloster, Ph.D., R.D., a lecturer in the nutritional sciences program at the University of Washington. “Carotenoids are the chemical compounds which produce the yellow, orange, and red colors in fruits and vegetables,” she shares, adding that eggs contain a class of carotenoids known as xanthophylls. “The two xanthophyll compounds found in these carotenoid rich foods are lutein and zeaxanthin; they are more of the yellow pigments in our foods. Egg yolks contain these xanthophylls… And the color of [the] yolk is dependent on the feed of the chicken and whether their diet included carotene-rich foods.”The lutein and zeaxanthin found in eggs play a role in maintaining eye health; research published in 2019 shows that lutein in particular may impact cognition in both children and adults. Gloster shares that these pigments allow our eyes to naturally filter blue-light emissions from computers and televisions; research has suggested that these compounds may even help prevent declining vision into old age and cataracts themselves. And while eating a balanced diet usually provides more than enough of these chemical compounds for your body to absorb, Gloster says eggs provide far more immediate benefit than most leafy vegetables. ” Because eggs also contain fatty acids, the lutein and zeaxanthin is more bioavailable, more easily absorbed, than the richer vegetable sources of carotenoids.” They […]