For centuries eggs have heralded the arrival of spring and the symbol of new life. It’s only fitting that we look at the magnitude of health benefits that the simple egg can provide. Out of all of nature’s bountiful provisions for us on here on earth, the egg receives the top ranking in providing our bodies with absolutely every nutrient it needs.
Toss out old judgements:
Eggs are perhaps one of nature’s most misunderstood food sources. For decades, many doctors advised people with high cholesterol or heart disease to stay clear of them due to the amount of naturally occurring cholesterol in an egg. One egg provides 212 mg of cholesterol. Doctors used to recommend that you don’t exceed 300 milligrams per day, and no more than 200 mg if you had high cholesterol or heart disease but those guidelines were changed in 2015. Why? Because eating cholesterol does not increase your cholesterol. Cholesterol is produced naturally in the body by the liver to serve important functions in the body and when your levels increase it is more than likely that bad fat choices (trans fats, saturated fats) and eating too many refined carbohydrates have a bigger impact on how ‘Bad” LDL cholesterol levels. (Note: If you have heart disease or have Hypercholesterolemia; always check with your doctor and follow their recommendations)
Eggs are one of the best sources of protein available in a natural form; they are known as nature’s most ‘perfect’ ‘food. Easy to prepare, easy to store, inexpensive and so very versatile they provide us with an almost perfect balance of amino acids (those protein building blocks of the body) vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. They are incomparable in nutritional value among all of natures whole foods that we can consume. One large egg has only 77 calories and provides you with 6 grams of the most perfect quality protein, about 5 grams of fat and barely any carbohydrates. Unlike any other food source, an egg provides you with every single vitamin, mineral and nutrient that the human body requires. And guess which part of the egg most of these goodies reside? The yolk.
Much maligned and often tossed out due to misinformation, the yolk of the egg is a treasure chest of nutrients. One of the most important nutrients found in the yolk of an egg is a nutrient called Choline. Most of us do not get enough of it, and since our bodies can produce some, but not enough of it, we need to eat it. Not eating enough choline is linked to several diseases- heart disease, fatty liver disease and many neurological disorders and a low intake in pregnant women can raise the risk of neural defect problems as well as affect the cognitive ability and function of the developing baby.
The protein structure in an egg is so perfect that the amino acid composition of an egg is the Gold Standard that all other proteins are measured by. Protein is made up of 21 different amino acids and usually different foods can provide us with different bits of amino acids in varying quantities which your body then links together to form proteins. Some sources of proteins are complete; giving us all 21 amino acids. Complete proteins are usually found in animal products. Some proteins are incomplete, meaning that they lack some of the 21 essential amino acids. Plant sources are often incomplete proteins which is why vegans and vegetarians must pay attention and combine different plant sources together in order to provide the body with the 21 amino acids needed to make a complete protein. Proteins are the building blocks of your body serving and building your body tissues, organs and muscles.
Health Benefits of Eggs:
There are many health benefits that can be derived from eating eggs; here is a look at some of the most important health benefits they provide:
- Strong muscles: The protein within eggs helps keep muscles working well while slowing the rate at which they are lost.
- Brain health: Eggs contain vitamins and minerals that are needed for the regular functioning of cells, including the brain, nervous system, memory, and metabolism. Nutrients contained within eggs are beneficial for brain cells and promote healthy brain function.
- Good energy production: Eggs contain all the daily vitamins and minerals that are needed to produce energy in all the cells of the body.
- A healthy immune system: Vitamin A, vitamin B-12, and selenium are key to keeping the immune system healthy.
- Lower risk of heart disease: Choline plays an important part in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine, which is associated with the development of heart disease.
- Healthful pregnancy: Some nutrients within eggs help to prevent congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida.
- Eyesight: Eggs also contain two very important antioxidants called lutein and zeaxanthin which help support good eye health, especially as we age. Lutein and zeaxanthin help to prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness and greatly reduce the risk of cataracts.
- Weight loss and maintenance: The high quality of protein within eggs might help keep people energized and feeling fuller for longer. Feeling full prevents snacking, which reduces overall calorie intake. A study of overweight women found that eating eggs for breakfast increased their feelings of fullness so much that they just naturally ate few calories over the next 36 hours. That can have a significant impact on weight loss.
- Skin benefits: Some vitamins and minerals within eggs help promote healthy skin and prevent the breakdown of body tissues. A strong immune system also contributes to a healthy look overall.
Tips on adding more eggs into your diet:
Eggs are extremely versatile, and people enjoy them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and as a great healthy addition to a salad.
Cooking: Cooking the egg increases the bio- availability of the protein in the egg but choose your method wisely. Boiling and poaching eggs gives you the lowest calorie option. If you do decide to scramble or fry your eggs, choose a high heat tolerant fat to cook them in. High smoke point fats include butter, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil. Choosing a different kind of vegetable oil that doesn’t have a high heat tolerance can change the structure of the fat when it gets heated up; which causes those fragile fats to turn into trans fats which can do more harm than good in our bodies.
Toss in the veggies: Eggs create a perfect opportunity for you to get in at least 2 servings of vegetables. Make an omelet or scrambled eggs and toss in peppers, onions, mushrooms, baby spinach greens or any veggie that you like or have leftover in your fridge. Top with fresh salsa for some extra spice and nutrients.
Skip the standard sides: Bacon, sausage and ham are all processed meats that not only serve up a heaping helping of saturated fats but also contain nitrates and preservatives which are known carcinogens. These sides are also loaded with sodium. Instead, have some fresh fruit alongside your vegetable omelet and start upping that fruit and vegetable count for the day.
Snacks: Nothing helps weight loss like a high- quality snack and you cannot get a higher quality snack that travels well (you can refrigerate eggs for a week), is easy to eat and will satisfy your hunger in a pinch than a hard- boiled egg.
Topping: Top off salads and sandwiches with a sliced hard-boiled egg. This adds quality protein, is more satisfying and will keep you full longer and gives a great flavor boost to your salad or sandwich.
By: Cindy Luisi WHE, WHC, CCP CDL Wellness Coach Rolling Strong