Proven health benefits of eating eggs

Eggs are one of the few foods that should be classified as a “superfood.” They are loaded with nutrients, some of which are rare in the modern diet. Here are 9 health benefits of eggs that have been confirmed in human studies.

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.

A whole egg contains all the nutrients needed to turn a single cell into a small chicken.

One large boiled egg contains (1, 2):

  • Vitamin A: 8% of DV (Daily Value)
  • Folate: 6% of DV
  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 14% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 23% of the DV
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 20% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 7% of DV
  • Selenium: 28% of the DV
  • Eggs also contain decent amounts of vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B6, calcium and zinc

This comes in at 78 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat.

Eggs also contain various trace elements that are important for health.

In fact, eggs are the perfect food. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient you need.

If you can get your hands on pasture-raised or omega-3-enriched eggs, they’re even more nutrient-dense. They contain higher amounts of omega-3 fats and are much higher in vitamins A and E (2, 3).

Summary

Whole eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, containing a little bit of almost every nutrient you need. Omega-3 and/or pasture-raised eggs contain more of certain nutrients.

It is true that eggs are high in cholesterol. In fact, one egg contains 186 mg (1).

However, it’s important to keep in mind that dietary cholesterol does not necessarily have an effect on blood cholesterol levels or heart disease risk (5, 6, 7).

The liver actually produces large amounts of cholesterol every day. In fact, when you eat more cholesterol, your liver has the ability to regulate cholesterol levels by producing less to balance it (5, 7).

Nevertheless, the response to eating eggs varies between individuals (8):

  • In 70% of people, taking cholesterol may not raise blood cholesterol or raise it only slightly (called “hypo-responders”).
  • In the remaining 30% of the population (called “hyper-responders”), eggs or other sources of dietary cholesterol can cause large increases in blood cholesterol

However, people with genetic conditions such as familial hypercholesterolemia or carriers of a gene variant called APOE4 may consider eating eggs in moderation.

Summary

Eggs are high in cholesterol, but eating eggs does not adversely affect blood cholesterol for most people.

HDL stands for high density lipoprotein. It is often known as “good” cholesterol (9).

People who have higher levels of HDL generally have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and other health problems (10, 11, 12).

Eating eggs is a great way to increase HDL. In one study, eating 1-3 eggs daily for four weeks raised HDL levels by 6-13% in young, healthy adults (13, 14, 15).

Summary

Eating eggs consistently leads to increased levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, which has historically been associated with a lower risk of many diseases.

Choline is a nutrient that most people don’t even know exists, yet it’s extremely important and is often grouped with the B vitamins.

Choline is used to build cell membranes and plays a role in the production of signaling molecules in the brain, along with a variety of other functions (16).

The symptoms of choline deficiency are serious, so fortunately it is rare in most healthy, non-pregnant people, mainly because the body produces choline.

Whole eggs are an excellent source of choline. One egg contains more than 100 mg of this very important nutrient.

Summary

Eggs are among the best food sources of choline, a nutrient that is incredibly important but most people don’t get enough of.

LDL cholesterol is commonly known as the “bad” cholesterol.

It is well known that high LDL levels are associated with an increased risk of heart disease (17, 18).

But many people don’t realize that LDL is divided into subtypes based on particle size.

There is small, dense LDL particles and big LDL particles.

Many studies show that people who have mostly small, dense LDL particles have a higher risk of heart disease than people who have mostly large LDL particles (19, 20).

Even if eggs tend to raise LDL cholesterol slightly in some people, it’s thought that eating eggs tends to raise mainly large (or “floater”) LDL levels instead of small, dense LDL particles, which may explain the link with a reduced risk of heart disease (21, 22).

However, some recent studies have found that egg consumption is associated with an increased risk of death from heart disease, so the research is mixed and more randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm the benefits of egg consumption for heart health (23, 24, 25).

Summary

Egg consumption appears to change the pattern of LDL particles from small, dense LDL (bad) to large LDL, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. But more research is needed.

One of the effects of aging is that vision tends to deteriorate.

There are several nutrients that help counteract some of the degenerative processes that can affect our eyes.

Two of these are called lutein and zeaxanthin. They are powerful antioxidants that accumulate in the retina of the eye (25, 26).

Studies show that consuming adequate amounts of these nutrients can significantly reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, two very common eye diseases (28, 29).

Egg yolks contain high amounts of both lutein and zeaxanthin.

In an older study, eating 1 egg daily for 5 weeks increased blood levels of lutein by 26% and zeaxanthin by 38% in older adults (30).

Eggs are also high in vitamin A, which deserves another mention here. Vitamin A deficiency is the most common cause of blindness in the world (31).

Summary

The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin are very important for eye health and can help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Eggs are good sources of both antioxidants.

Not all eggs are created equal. Their nutritional composition varies depending on the way the hens are fed and raised.

Eggs from hens that have been raised on pasture and/or fed omega-3-enriched feed tend to be much higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce blood levels of triglycerides, a well-known risk factor for heart disease (32, 33).

Studies show that eating omega-3-enriched eggs is a very effective way to lower blood triglycerides. In an older study, eating just five omega-3-enriched eggs per week for three weeks lowered triglycerides by 16-18% (34).

More recently, a small 2020 study of 20 participants found that eating 2 omega-3-enriched eggs daily for five weeks lowered triglycerides by 10% (35).

Summary

Omega-3 fortified and pastured eggs can contain significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these types of eggs is an effective way to reduce blood triglycerides.

Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body.

They are used to create all kinds of tissues and molecules that serve both structural and functional purposes.

Getting enough protein in the diet is very important and research suggests that currently recommended amounts may be too low (36, 37).

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, with one large egg containing six grams of protein.

Eggs also contain all the essential amino acids in the right ratios, so your body is well equipped to make full use of the protein in them.

Eating enough protein can help with weight loss, increase muscle mass, lower blood pressure, and optimize bone health, to name a few (38, 39, 40, 41).

Summary

Eggs are quite high in quality animal protein and contain all the essential amino acids that humans need.

Eggs are incredibly filling. They are a high-protein food, and protein is the most satiating macronutrient (42, 43, 44).

Eggs score high on a scale called the satiety index, which measures the ability of foods to make you feel full and reduce later calorie intake (45).

In one study of 50 overweight and obese adults, eating eggs and toast instead of cereal and milk with orange juice reduced postprandial hunger, prolonged fasting periods, and caused them to eat ~180 calories less at noon 4 hours later (46).

In another study, eating eggs was associated with a 38% lower risk of excess body fat and a 34% lower risk of central obesity, or visceral fat around the abdomen, a known risk factor for metabolic syndrome (47).

Summary

Eggs are highly filling and can reduce calorie intake later in the day. Regular consumption of eggs can promote weight loss.

Studies clearly show that eating up to three whole eggs a day is perfectly safe.

There is no evidence that going beyond this is harmful—it’s just “uncharted territory” because it hasn’t been explored.

Eggs are pretty much nature’s perfect food.

Among other things, they are also cheap, easy to prepare, go with almost any meal and taste great.

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