Depending on how old you are, you may remember when eggs were an everyday fixture at many families’ breakfast tables. That all changed in the 1970s, when researchers began linking egg consumption with elevated cholesterol levels, and warning the public away from eating too many.
If you like eggs, though, there’s good news. Over the years, health watch organizations like the American Heart Association have revised their position on eggs. Many health researchers now believe that the high levels of cholesterol present in egg yolks don’t cause a corresponding increase in cholesterol in our body. Instead, we now know that high cholesterol, particularly LDL or “bad” cholesterol, is caused by eating a diet high in saturated fat and dangerous trans fats. Eggs, on the other hand, are actually relatively low in saturated fat, with only about 1.5 grams per egg, and contain no trans fat at all.
Even by cautious estimates that recommend keeping a tight reign on dietary cholesterol, it’s no problem to eat an average of up to one egg per day — or about two to three egg dishes per week, if you tend to eat them two or three at a time. But eggs aren’t just “not bad for you”; they’re actually one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, with plenty of protein, nine essential amino acids, iron and plenty of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Here’s a quick look at some of the health benefits of eating eggs:
Protein: Eggs are an extremely good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing body tissue and muscle. and aides in immune function. High-quality protein, like the protein in eggs, may also help people maintain a healthy weight. In fact, recent research shows that eating eggs for breakfast, as part of a reduced-calorie diet, helps overweight adults feel fuller for longer, feel more energetic and lose more weight.
Vitamin A: Helps to maintains healthy skin, vision and immune function.
Vitamins B2, B5, B6, and B12: Vitamins B2 and B5 (Riboflavin and Pantothenic Acid) help to provide energy for the body. B6 and B12 support digestion and nerve function.
Vitamin D: Eggs are one of the few foods that contain naturally occurring Vitamin D, which works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth.
Iron: Helps the body to create red blood cells and transport oxygen through the bloodstream.
Phosphorus: Produces energy and serves as a building block for bones, teeth and cell membranes.
Selenium: Prevents the breakdown of body tissues, and works with vitamin E to protect against chronic diseases. Acts as an antioxidant, preventing free radicals from damaging cells.
Zinc: Assists in maintaining immune function, as well as body tissue growth and repair.
Choline: Works to promote metabolism, brain and nerve function, and the transfer of nutrients through the body.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Egg yolks are one of the most readily available sources of these antioxidants, which promote healthy eyesight. Lutein and Zeaxanthin help to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Monounsaturated Fat: Contrary to its bad reputation, some fat is actually necessary for healthy body functions. Fat creates insulation around nerves and cells. “Heart healthy” fats, such as those found in eggs, can also help you feel fuller longer, reducing cravings for less healthy foods.