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10 Great Reasons to Eat Eggs

What came first – the chicken or the egg? You won’t learn the answer to this question here, but you’ll learn all about the health benefits of eating eggs. The views on their place in a healthy diet has changed a lot over the years. For several decades, eggs were categorized among unhealthy foods and responsible for the majority of the world’s clogged arteries and heart attacks. Luckily for us, the science of nutrition has made mile-long steps since, and today experts widely agree on eating eggs being rather healthy and beneficial for the human organism.  

Of course, whether any particular food you add to your diet is good for you or not depends on specifics of your lifestyle and overall health – all the other things you eat, how much exercise you get throughout your day, what your current medical condition is, and ultimately, your genetics. If, for example, you eat scrambled eggs with fried bacon and white bread every day, it’s not very likely to do you much good. Eating boiled eggs with fresh veggies and whole grains in your baked goodies is another story.

Thanks to their world-wide popularity, eggs have come under the scrutiny of many scientists around the globe. Whether you like yours scrambled or poached, you’ll certainly appreciate learning some more about the golden treasure inside the shell.

1. Eggs contain high quality proteins with an excellent amino acid spectrum

An average chicken egg holds 6 g of protein, and not just any protein at that. The egg protein is of the best quality, boasting a high biological value and containing all of the essential amino acids. This means they make for an extraordinarily effective tool for building muscle mass as well as other body tissues. And if you thought that all of the egg protein is contained within the white, while yolk holds not much more than the dreaded fats, you were mistaken. The total protein content of an egg comes 50% from the white, 40% from the yolk, and 10% from the inedible shell and its membrane.

This is something you might want to think of next time you find yourself throwing the yolk out, reasoning that all you need is the protein for your muscles.

Two studies looking into the impact of egg consumption on the anabolic effect (the growth of muscles and other tissues) might just save the yolk from being discarded unjustly. These studies compare two groups of participants who ate eggs after strength trainings – one group consuming eggs whole, the other eating only whites, while substituting for the absent yolk protein from other sources. Both studies came to the conclusion that the group of participants eating whole eggs registered a higher rate of physical stimulation responsible for muscle growth. It is therefore presumed that the particular components of a single egg work in tandem, and separating them causes the synergetic effect to break. It is, of course, necessary to remember and consider the fact that a whole egg contains more calories than its counterpart separated from its yolk. [1–3]

If you’re interested in learning more about other sources of high-quality proteins, have a look at this article:  20 Foods that Will Easily Supply Your Diet with Protein.

Eggs and protein

2. Eggs are a great source of vitamins and minerals

When it comes to nutrients, an egg is a true treasure thanks to its high nutritional density. This means an egg packs an extraordinarily solid dose of important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and proteins per a relatively small amount of calories (about 70 kcal an egg).

Other foods with high nutritional density are for example wholegrain bread, fresh fruit or white yoghurt. Low nutritional density foods, on the other hand, are for instance white baked goods, sugary drinks or sweetened dried fruits. Foods are not only a source of calories, but also nutrients that are indispensable for the human body.  The shell of an egg holds more than just a protein bomb on the inside: it is also a wonderful source of micronutrients such as vitamin B12, vitamin A, vitamin D, folic acid, selenium, iodide, zinc as well as phosphorus and many other well-known antioxidants. [4]

An overview of nutrients found in a single egg (50g):  [5–6]

NutrientAmount% of RDINutrientAmount% of RDI
*Energetic value (calories)71,9 kcal3,6Iodide24,7 µg16,5
Protein6,3 gSelenium15, 6 µg22,2
Fats5 gVitamin B10,039 mg39
**Saturated fats1,6 g7,3Vitamin B20,211 mg16,2
Cabrohydrates0,5 gVitamin B60,032 mg2
Calcium24,1 mg2,4Folic acid35,7 µg10,8
Iron0,84 mg 7,6Vitamin B120,513 µg12,8
Magnesium5,73 mg1,6Vitamin A90,5 µg12,1
Phosphorus92,6 mg16,8Vitamin D (D2 + D3)1,24 µg8,3
Potassium66,4 mg1,9Choline169 mg30,7
Sodium64,9 mgLutein116 µg2,32
Zinc0,6 mg6,3Zeaxanthin115 µg11,5
*The reference value for energy intake for adults is 2000 kcal/d.
**The maximum recommended limit for the intake of saturated fats is up to 10% of the total energy intake, at 2000 kcal per day this corresponds to about 22 g of saturated fats.


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3. Some eggs are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids

Eggs aren’t naturally the best source of omega 3 fatty acids. They contain a variety of fats, the largest part of which make monounsaturated fats, then saturated fats, and only the smallest portion of egg’s fats are polyunsaturated fats, which is where we find omega 3 fatty acids.

Eggs and omega 3 fatty acids

Among omega 3 fatty acids are:

  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)

DHA and EPA occur naturally mainly in fish (salmon, sardines, tuna…) as well as in seafood and seaweeds. ALA on the other hand is commonly found in seeds (flax, pumpkin, chia), nuts (walnuts) and their oils. In case these foods aren’t commonplace in your diet, it’s recommended to substitute them with proper dietary supplements.

Keeping tabs on your intake of omega 3 fatty acids is quite important, since many studies indicate that they are key to proper functioning and overall health of your blood vessels and heart, as well as of your brain and eyes. The recommended daily intake of DHA and EPA is 250g for an adult.  The beneficial effects of omega 3 fatty acids are most commonly associated with DHA and EPA specifically.  [7–8]

When doing your shopping run, you might have noticed that some egg packages are marked with “Omega 3” sign. This is no cheap trick; it simply means these eggs have a higher content of omega 3 fatty acids due to the chickens being fed flax seed. Thanks to the flax seed diet, some of these acids, particularly ALA make it into the eggs themselves.

ALA might be associated with the omega 3 health benefits a bit less often than DHA and EPA, but some studies show that it is also beneficial to the health of the cardiovascular system and has anti-inflammatory effects. Human body can actually transform ALA into EPA and DHA, but only marginally so (less than 15% of ALA is restructured in this way), which means it cannot be relied upon for reaching the full RDI of omega 3 acids. [9–10]

Main sources of omega 3 fatty acids:

  • Omega 3 enriched eggs can contain anywhere between 100 to 500 mg 
  • in fish: from 1 to 4,6 g per 100g
  • in walnuts: up to 10,4 g per 100g  [11]

4. Unless you are in a particular risk group, the egg cholesterol isn’t your problem

As a single egg contains about 200 mg of cholesterol, it is no wonder eggs used to be the considered risky for cardiovascular health. The formerly accepted upper limit of 300 g of cholesterol a day used to make eggs seem rather unappealing in terms of health. The current consensus among the world’s health organizations, however, is that what we really need to watch is our intake of saturated fats, which present a much larger risk than any surplus cholesterol. The situation concerning cholesterol is a lot less black and white than we used to think. The image of a 3-egg breakfast being a sure-fire to way to clog your arteries is fortunately now outdated.  [12]

It is unlikely you have to be worried about higher cholesterol intake unless [13]

  • you suffer from diabetes or other metabolic disorder
  • you suffer from high blood pressure or other heart and blood vessel disease
  • your family’s medical history shows common heart and blood vessel disease, or you suffer from high sensitivity to cholesterol in food
  • you don’t exercise regularly, and your diet isn’t varied and well-balanced.

Studies looking into the connection between eating eggs and high levels of cholesterol and fat in the bloodstream have yielded various results. Nevertheless, no direct risk of heart and blood vessel disease has been proven from ingesting cholesterol. It is overall rather difficult to determine the impact of one single foodstuff on the health of the human body. Our well-being results from a complex interplay of many factors, chief among which are the overall diet, lifestyle and genetics. Recent studies also point out that eating eggs might be highly beneficial due to their richness in bioactive substances (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants) [14–15] 

This means that unless you are a part of a risk group, the amount of cholesterol in your diet should not be too much of a worry to you. Moreover, most of the egg cholesterol is found within the yolk, which means that even if you need to lower your cholesterol levels, or you just want to decrease your overall intake of fats, you can always reach for liquid egg whites.

Eggs and cholesterol

5. Eggs are among the chief sources of choline, which supports brain functions

A single chicken egg contains  140-170 mg of choline, which makes it one of the richest sources of this nutrient. Choline belongs among nootropics – substances that improve cognitive functions. It is a key component of acetylcholine, which is important for the maintenance of memory, psychomotor abilities  and also influences mood. The human body is capable of producing it on its own, but only in a small amount which doesn’t fully cover its needs. It is therefore necessary to supply choline from your food or from appropriate supplements. A single chicken egg covers about 30% of recommended daily intake. Other foods rich in choline are beef liver, lean beef and beans, quinoa or red potatoes. [16–17]

6. Eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin – antioxidants important for sight

Lutein and zeaxanthin are known antioxidants that fall within the category of carotenoids. A single egg contains on average 100-300 μg of each one of them, mostly within the often vilified yolk.  They make up a part of the eye pigment, and as such they contribute to the healthy eyesight. Together with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins (C, E, B-complex), minerals (selenium and zinc) and other nutrients, they were shown to help prevent macular degeneration, which is one of the main causes of blindness in developed countries [18–20]

Lutein is also often associated with promoting cognitive functions, such as memory, language ability and learning. At this time, no specific consensus exists for the recommended daily intake of these antioxidants, but current research indicates that a daily adult dose of  5-10 mg of lutein and 1-2 mg of zeaxanthin should play its part in prevention of associated disorders. Aside from eggs, these antioxidants can also be found in kale, avocado, broccoli or spinach. When it comes to these plant sources, however, it should be noted that their overall yield when processed inside the human body is lower, due to the high content of dietary fibre present. Adding fats to these foods (for example adding oil to a kale salad) helps increase this yield. [18–20]

7. Eating eggs promotes satiety which can help you lose weight

Eggs are known for a good satiety index, mainly thanks to their high-protein content. To illustrate, picture two buddies – Tom and Luke. Tom eats omelet with some bread for breakfast. Luke, who’s got a bit of a sweet tooth will spread a thick layer of butter and jam on the same slice of bread. Both Tom’s and Luke’s breakfast contains the same amount of calories. Only one of them, however, is going to be raiding the cookie jar really soon.

This is, of course, going to be Luke, since his breakfast consisted of a significantly smaller amount of protein. Protein is out of all the macronutrients the most effective at filling your stomach. Eating protein-rich meals will not only make you feel satiated for a longer time, but it is also likely you’ll eat less while at the table, since your hunger will be satisfied much faster. This is one of the main reasons why high-protein foods are recommended for weight loss. [21–22] If you’d like to learn more about the connection between proteins and weight loss, check out our article Protein and Weight Loss: How Proteins Can Help You Lose Weight.

Eggs and weight loss

8. Eggs just taste great

One of the main reasons why eggs are a key part of so many dishes is quite simply their extraordinary taste. The slow flow of a lightly cooked egg yolk on top of a delicious avocado toast is nothing short of every foodie’s dream. Eggs are so delicious primarily because of their fatty yolk: the fats contained within are what carries the tastes of over 100 aromatic compounds found in the egg. This gives the yolk a very distinctive taste and texture, which will make any food you add it to smoother. The whites on the other hand, have a lot less pronounced taste, which makes them a great addition to so many different recipes. Adding a whole egg to a dish will delight both your body and your taste buds.  [23]

9. Eggs are easily accesible

Eggs are something you’ll find sold in the most distant of backwaters. They are a key part of cuisine in most cultures, and are generally affordable. Whether they come from a free-range shed, your local farmer, in BIO quality or from your grandma, it is important to store eggs properly. To learn more about storing eggs so that they stay fresh, read our article about proper food storage. 

10. Eggs are versatile and easy to prepare

Boiled, scrambled or poached? Or maybe an omelet? Even the worst kitchenphobe can make something out of an egg. This of course brings up the age-old question – who makes the best eggs? Your mom? Your best friend? Or maybe the best eggs you’ve ever tasted came from a pan of your old college roomie all those years ago. Thing is, eggs are just so versatile. They can be eaten on their own or added to a salad or a spread, and easily step up your protein intake. Thanks to their properties, their potential in kitchen is almost limitless. They work as a binder for your protein pancakes. Whisk up the whites alone, and you’ve got foam that will add volume to cakes! Really, we could write an entire article just about all of the uses an egg has in the kitchen.

Get inspired to cook with eggs on our blog:

Recipe: Egg-stuffed avocado

Take home message

Adding eggs to your dishes is not only a great way to increase your protein intake – as if that weren’t enough, there’s a whole bunch of micronutrients present, that make eggs nothing short of a multivitamin bomb in a shell. 

The antioxidants lutein a zeaxanthin will help keep your eyes healthy, and choline will benefit your cognitive functions. Eggs are available in almost every shop, and there’s a lot to choose from: free-range or BIO; some are enriched with extra omega 3 acids. They are extremely easy and quick to prepare. Virtually anyone can whip up a delicious meal, and we hope that after reading this article, you’ll enjoy doing so that much more, knowing all of the health benefits eggs can bring into your kitchen.

Did you know about all of the listed reasons to eat eggs or have you learned anything new? How do you like your eggs the most? Who makes the best egg dishes for you? Tell us in the comment section, and if you enjoyed this article, share it with your friends and relatives!

Sources:

[1] Guha, S., Majumder, K., & Mine, Y. Egg Proteins. – https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.21603-X

[2] van Vliet, S., Shy, E. L., Abou Sawan, S., Beals, J. W., West, D. W., Skinner, S. K., Ulanov, A. V., Li, Z., Paluska, S. A., Parsons, C. M., Moore, D. R., & Burd, N. A. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. – https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.117.159855

[3] Abou Sawan, S., van Vliet, S., West, D. W. D., Beals, J. W., Paluska, S. A., Burd, N. A., & Moore, D. R. Whole egg, but not egg white, ingestion induces mTOR colocalization with the lysosome after resistance exercise. – https://doi.org/10.1152/ajpcell.00225.2018

[4] Top 10 Health Benefits of Eating Eggs. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-health-benefits-of-eggs]

[5] FoodData Central. – https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/748967/nutrients

[6] European Food Safety Authority . Dietary reference values.– https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/topics/topic/dietary-reference-values

[7] Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. – https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/

[8] Fleming, J. A., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. The Evidence for α-Linolenic Acid and Cardiovascular Disease Benefits: Comparisons with Eicosapentaenoic Acid and Docosahexaenoic Acid. – https://doi.org/10.3945/an.114.005850

[9] Ohman, M., Akerfeldt, T., Nilsson, I., Rosen, C., Hansson, L.-O., Carlsson, M., & Larsson, A. Biochemical effects of consumption of eggs containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. – https://doi.org/10.3109/2000-1967-235

[10] Reinagel, N. D. M. Are Omega-3 Eggs as Good as Eating Fish? – https://www..com/article/are-omega-3-eggs-as-good-as-eating-fish/

[11] Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content in Fish – https://seafood.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/snic/omega-3-content-in-fish.pdf

[12] European Food Safety Authority. Scientific Opinion on Dietary Reference Values for fats, including saturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, and cholesterol.– https://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/1461

[13] Kuang, H., Yang, F., Zhang, Y., Wang, T., & Chen, G. (2018). The Impact of Egg Nutrient Composition and Its Consumption on Cholesterol Homeostasis. – https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/6303810

[14] Spence, J. D., Jenkins, D. J., & Davignon, J. Dietary cholesterol and egg yolks: Not for patients at risk of vascular disease. – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/

[15] Carson Jo Ann S., Lichtenstein Alice H., Anderson Cheryl A.M., Appel Lawrence J., Kris-Etherton Penny M., Meyer Katie A., Petersen Kristina, Polonsky Tamar, Van Horn Linda, & null null. Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. – https://doi.org/10.1161/CIR.0000000000000743

[16] Office of Dietary Supplements. Choline. – https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/

[17] Frank, K., Patel, K., Lopez, G., & Willis, B. Choline Research Analysis. – https://examine.com/supplements/choline/

[18] Rasmussen, H. M., & Johnson, E. J. Nutrients for the aging eye. – https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S45399

[19] Eisenhauer, B., Natoli, S., Liew, G., & Flood, V. MLutein and Zeaxanthin—Food Sources, Bioavailability and Dietary Variety in Age-Related Macular Degeneration Protection. – https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9020120

[20] Lutein – The Eye’s and Brain’s Best Friend. – https://www.incredibleegg.org/nutrition/articles/lutein-eyes-brains-best-friend/

[21] Morell, P., & Fiszman, S. Revisiting the role of protein-induced satiation and satiety – https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodhyd.2016.08.003

[22] Pombo-Rodrigues, S., Calame, W., & Re, R. The effects of consuming eggs for lunch on satiety and subsequent food intake. – https://doi.org/10.3109/09637486.2011.566212

[23] Flavor. American Egg Board. – https://www.incredibleegg.org/professionals/manufacturers/real-egg-functionality/flavor/