Nutrition research suggests that eggs not only are a convenient source of nutrients but they can also play a pivotal role in weight management, muscle strength, healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health, and more. In fact, according to a study done by the Egg Nutrition Center, simply consuming one egg a day reduces the risk of stroke by as much 12 percent.
Decades-old research has sustained and perpetuated the idea that eggs are bad and should be consumed sparingly if at all. This was largely because one large egg contains between 186 and 213 milligrams of cholesterol. And all of the cholesterol is in the yolk.
Scientists and health professionals have drilled into our brains that high blood cholesterol is the primary cause of heart disease. Cholesterol- in and of itself–is not bad. It helps your body build new cells, insulate nerves, produce hormones, and make testosterone, which all in-turn help to increase energy and build muscle. Under normal circumstances, the liver produces all the cholesterol the body needs. However, cholesterol also enters your body from animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat. Too much cholesterol in your body can increase your risk for developing heart disease. Since eggs are fairly high in cholesterol, it was assumed that eating them regularly–particularly the yolks–was a precursor to heart disease.
Today, researchers understand that cholesterol in food is not the true and sole culprit for heart disease. Studies have revealed that saturated and trans fats actually have a much greater effect on blood cholesterol. According to research conducted by Dr. Luc Djoussé, a heart disease researcher at Harvard Medical School, dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol.
“Current scientific data do not justify worries about egg consumption, including egg yolk, when it comes to heart health,” he says.
Eggs–specifically the yolks–are good for your health
Egg yolks contain almost all the vitamins and minerals in the egg. There’s just no comparison. Most of the vitamins and minerals in an egg are lost if the yolk is discarded. The white of a large egg contains around 60 percent of the egg’s total protein. Additionally, fat and cholesterol in the egg yolk contain fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins D, E, A, choline, and carotenoids, which may aid the body in absorbing these essential and important nutritional components of eggs.
Eggs also contain phospholipids which may affect cholesterol and inflammation levels in beneficial ways, help decrease blood pressure, and improve vascular function. Preliminary research results have revealed that phospholipids may also help to protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, although the results from these studies are still far from definitive.
In 2000, the American Heart Association (AHA) revised its dietary guidelines and gave healthy adults the green light to enjoy eggs once again. The AHA’s guidelines now allow healthy adults to consume an egg a day but still advise on keeping the total daily cholesterol limit to less than 300 mg.
Best cooking methods to unlock eggs’ nutritional benefits
Applying heat to good food is a naturally destructive process. The chemistry of heating foods looks a lot like unwinding molecules. In vegetables, heat can break down cell walls to sometimes help make nutrients more accessible to your gut. In egg whites, the proteins become unwound, to become slightly more bio-available (which refers to the proportion of a nutrient that is absorbed from the diet and used for normal body functions). Or to put it simply, heating egg whites is generally beneficial. The yolks, however, should be prepared with as little heat as possible, because heat damages fats and the vital nutrients inside.
Raw eggs are the most nutrient-rich way to consume eggs, however experts warn against this practice as raw eggs can contain Salmonella and other harmful contaminates.
|||^||Egg Nutrition Center: New Meta-Analysis Suggests Daily Egg Intake May Decrease Stroke Risk|
|||^||Jillian Michaels: MYTH: Egg Yolks Are Bad For You|
|||^||WebMD: Cholesterol & Triglycerides Health Center|
|||^||WebMD: Heart Disease Health Center|
|||^||Circulation: Egg Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians’ Health Study|
|||^||WebMD: Good Eggs: For Nutrition, They’re Hard to Beat|
|||^||Live Science: What Are Carotenoids?|
|||^||Prepared Foods: Phospholipids from Egg Yolks|
|||^||National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effects of Specific Multi-Nutrient Enriched Diets on Cerebral Metabolism, Cognition and Neuropathology in AβPPswe-PS1dE9 Mice|
|||^||the world’s healthiest foods: What are the pros and cons of raw eggs?|