Eggs have got a bit of a bad reputation in the past – not only because industrially produced eggs are infected with bacteria, including salmonella. But also because they are high in fat and cholesterol. We are told to limit our consumption of eggs, or to eat only the protein rich egg-whites in order to not gain weight and to keep the cholesterol levels in our blood to within acceptable levels.
The thing is, we don’t need to do this. While 1 egg contains a large amount of cholesterol compared to other foods (212mg in 1 large egg), dietary cholesterol does not affect our blood cholesterol levels – if we don’t consume enough in our diet, our livers will simply make more.
And consuming eggs will actually improve your blood cholesterol profile. They will increase the levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol while limiting the “bad” LDL cholesterol to a large “fluffy” subtype that is not associated with heart disease (1, 2, 3, 4).
Not only that, eggs are simply packed with nutrients that our bodies need.
1 egg will provide you with the following (6):
- Protein – 6g
- Fat – 5g
- Vitamin A – 6% RDA
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – 2%RDA
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 15% RDA
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) – 7% RDA
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – 3% RDA
- Vitamin B12 – 9% RDA
- Choline 113mg
- Vitamin E – 3% RDA
- Folic acid – 5% RDA
- Calcium – 2% RDA
- Iron – 3% RDA
- Magnesium – 1% RDA
- Phosphorus – 9% RDA
- Potassium – 2% RDA
- Zinc – 4% RDA
- Selenium – 22% RDA
And all with only 77 calories and minimal amounts of carbs. Most of the nutrients with the exception of protein are found in the yolks, meaning that if you are eating only the egg whites you are missing out on most of the nutritional benefits of all these vitamins and minerals.
Eggs also measure highly on the satiety index. This means that they are very effective at satisfying hunger, make you feel full and stay full for longer. And as a result, you will eat less. There have been numerous studies that have shown that eating eggs for breakfast leads to weight loss (7, 8).
One thing to remember is that not all eggs are the same. The vast majority of egg-laying hens are confined in small cages and lead incredibly unhealthy lives. They are fed a grain based feed that alters the EFA (essential fatty acid) profile in an unfavorable way. And because they are caged with such a high stocking density, a large proportion of the birds will be infected with salmonella and other bacteria. This can lead to salmonella-tainted eggs
Even eggs that claim to be free-range may not be as free-range as you think – in order to receive the designation of “free-range”, the hens just have to have access to the outdoors for part of the day. Access is the key – they usually are raised in huge barns, with a tiny little opening to the outside. The food and water is all in the barn, so guess where the hens stay. And they are fed the same kind of diet as the caged birds… one that is too high in omega 6 and too low in omega 3.
If at all possible, buy omega 3 enriched or pastured eggs as they will be laid by healthier birds and have a better omega 3 : omega 6 ratio.
So there you have it – eggs, cheap, nutritious and very tasty. What is not to like about them?