The egg debate has raged on for years. Since experts started warning against the dangers of high cholesterol levels, eggs turned into something to avoid. For years, we have believed that eggs were bad for your heart. The air cleared when the ‘real’ culprits were identified – trans fats, and the sunny side of eggs began to surface.
Still, up to today, experts have different opinions about eggs. The main issue about eggs is their cholesterol content, which has an impact on how many eggs you ought to eat in a day.
Eggs and Cholesterol Levels
The reason why eggs have been labeled as bad for your body is that the yolks are high in cholesterol. This notion is based on sketchy reasoning that all cholesterol is terrible for your body, when, in fact, cholesterol does play an essential role in your body.
For example, cholesterol makes hormones like cortisol, estrogen, and testosterone. Considering the crucial role cholesterol plays in bodily functions, it is no wonder that your body can produce enough of it to meet its needs. Since your body can fulfill its cholesterol needs on its own, what happens when you eat food high in cholesterol?
When you eat foods high in cholesterol, a shift takes place. Instead of your liver producing the cholesterol, your body gets it from the food you eat. In turn, your liver produces less cholesterol to try and keep a balance. What this means is your body knows how to regulate cholesterol levels from becoming too high. If your diet contains ample amounts of cholesterol, it merely stops producing it, and if you lack cholesterol, the liver steps in and increases production. A high intake can cause a spike in blood cholesterol levels, and we all know the dangers of that. However, adding a few eggs to your diet won’t do as much harm as you may have thought.
How Many Eggs is Okay?
Egg yolks in particular have received a lot of controversy over the years. Many believe that egg yolks are high in cholesterol, so if you are on a diet, you should limit your egg consumption or at least remove the egg yolks. Just how true is this?
Well, first of all, egg yolks are indeed high in cholesterol, and it’s not hard to see why. Eggs have to contain enough nutrients to start a new chicken’s life.
Here are the numbers: two large whole eggs have about 422 mg of cholesterol. This is a lot compared to the 88 mg of cholesterol found in the same amount of 30 percent fat ground beef. Until recently, the recommended daily intake of cholesterol was only 300 mg per day, so it’s easy to see why people started limiting their egg intake. However, as new research showed the value of cholesterol, recent Dietary Guidelines do not specify a daily limit for dietary cholesterol. Does this mean you can eat all the eggs you want?
Unfortunately, most of the studies conducted on eggs were only with up to three eggs per day. Eating too many eggs could potentially impact your health negatively. Another thing to remember is that every person is different, and not all eggs are the same.
In one case study, an 88-year-old man consumed 25 eggs per day, still had normal cholesterol levels and general health. Of course, this may not apply to everyone, so it is difficult to put a specific number on how many eggs to eat per day.
Benefits of Eating Eggs
Sadly, all the decades of conditioning to associate cholesterol with heart disease has left a lasting mark on the reputation of eggs. New research sheds light on the amazing benefits of eating eggs.
Boost of Essential Nutrients
It’s safe to say that eggs are one of the most nutritious foods you can include in your diet. Here is a brief overview of all the nutrients you get from a single boiled egg:
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin B6
As the list shows, eggs contain a little bit of everything your body needs!.Take, for instance, the mineral selenium, which is known for its antioxidant properties. In a single boiled egg, you can get up to 22 percent of the recommended dietary allowance. If you choose pastured eggs, you can also get high amounts of omega-3 fat and increased vitamin A and E levels.
High-Quality Protein and Amino Acids
Proteins are essential to weight loss because they help build muscle, which in turn, burns more calories. If you are looking to increase your protein intake without having to do too much cooking, eggs are the perfect solution. A single egg has six grams of protein.
Your protein intake helps with your energy balance, which makes weight maintenance easier and, as such, increases your weight loss efforts. Another study showed that increased protein intake helped enhance muscles and increased benefits from resistance training.
Along with protein, eggs are also excellent sources of amino acids, which help your body break down the protein.
Lowered Risk of Stroke
Contrary to the initial belief that eggs increased your risk of heart disease and stroke, recent studies show the opposite to be true. Just because eggs have cholesterol, it doesn’t mean they are bad for your heart. Research explored this topic in one meta-analysis reviewing 17 experiments with a total of more than 263,000 participants. The conclusion was that consuming eggs (one per day) did not increase the risk of heart disease or stroke. So it’s safe to say that separating the yolks when on a diet has no scientific backing.
It is important to note, however, that, in one study, people with diabetes who ate eggs did have an increased risk of heart disease. Still, this study is not enough to prove that eggs caused the increased risk.
The fact is this: if you are staying away from eggs because you fear heart attacks or stroke, there is nothing to be afraid of.
Feel Fuller Longer
One of the hurdles everyone on a diet can relate to is how to stay full for longer. Many of us would love to stick to meal times but find ourselves hungry hours before the next meal and end up eating a snack in between. Eggs just might be the solution!
As a high protein food, eggs are amazingly filling. In a study on the satiety index of common foods, eggs scored high, proving that adding a few eggs into your diet may be all you need to reduce overeating.
A study involving 30 overweight women looked at the effects of eggs on satiety. During the study, the women, divided into two groups – one had a bagel-based breakfast and the other an egg breakfast. After three and a half hours, participants who had the egg breakfast were still full and consumed fewer calories.
Nutrients for Eyes
This benefit is one of the less known benefits of eating eggs but has a lot of scientific backing. Eggs contain nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are potent antioxidants that are produced in your eye’s retina. Findings in studies reveal that the presence of these two nutrients in the retina can act as antioxidants to protect the eye against short-wavelength visible light, which is one of the causes of age-related vision problems.
According to researchers, the egg yolks contain large amounts of these two nutrients. Eating 1.3 egg yolks daily for a month and a half increased the lutein levels by up to 50 percent and zeaxanthin by up to 142 percent. Along with these two different nutrients, they are also rich in vitamin A. Lack of vitamin A is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide.
Source of Choline
Choline is one of the many ‘unknown’ yet essential nutrients for the body. Choline belongs to the vitamin B family and is useful in producing acetylcholine – a necessary nutrient for neurotransmitter synthesis. It is also imperative during pregnancy and lactation, where it can affect the brain development of the fetus. Studies also show that those who have low choline levels are more prone to inflammatory disease, and choline deficiency can even increase the risk of breast cancer.
Thankfully, the nutrient-filled egg has more than 100 milligrams of this choline.
Increased Levels of HDL (Good Cholesterol)
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. HDL is also called ‘good cholesterol.’ According to researchers, eating eggs is a great way to increase your HDL levels.
One study conducted on 24 healthy adults proved the power of eggs in raising HDL levels. The participants of the study added two boiled eggs to their regular diet for six weeks without changing other lifestyle habits. After six weeks, HDL levels increased by 10 percent.
No matter what kind of diet you are following, incorporating a few boiled eggs today can increase your HDL levels and improve insulin resistance.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
LDL, or the so-called ‘bad cholesterol,’ leads to an increased risk of heart disease, but there is more to the story than that. What you may not know is that there are two types of LDL particles: small, dense LDL and large LDL particles. The small, dense LDL particles are the culprits for the increased risk of heart disease. However, large LDL particles do not cause much damage to your heart, and this is where eggs come in. Eggs do raise LDL cholesterol levels in some people, but according to some studies, this increased LDL could be an improvement because eating eggs can change the dangerous LDL small particles to the larger particles.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There is ample evidence to prove that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce blood levels of LDL and thereby reduce the risk of heart disease. Although not all eggs can provide this needed nutrient, if you choose pastured eggs, you will be getting high levels of omega-3.
According to researchers, eating omega-3 rich eggs is an effective way of lowering dangerous triglycerides in the blood. One study involving 25 healthy volunteers showed the potential of enriched eggs in reducing triglycerides.
During the study, the two groups of participants alternated consuming regular eggs with fortified eggs over three weeks. They measured a 16-18 percent decrease in triglyceride at the end of the three weeks.
No Gluten or Carbs
For those following a strict no-carb or low carb diet, finding a food source that still gives you all the right nutrients can be difficult. Although there are many other sources of protein, an affordable and practical option is upping your egg intake. As we have noted, eggs are excellent sources of protein.
Another benefit you get with eggs is that they are gluten-free. So if you have a gluten intolerance or have celiac disease, eggs allow you to get all the right nutrients without worrying about gluten.
Boost of Energy
One whole egg can contain high levels of protein but only has 70 calories, making it a perfect snack or part of a breakfast meal. Along with all the essential nutrients we mentioned, eggs give your body everything it needs to convert food into energy. Nutrients like thiamin, folate, B12, and thiamin are all necessary for the production of energy, and eggs have them all.
Unlike other sugar-based foods that give a boost in power and energy, eggs don’t cause a rise in blood sugar or insulin levels. The energy you get from eggs is steady and sustained. The amino acid called leucine contained in eggs also helps your body use power wisely and helps your muscles recover from exercise.
With high energy levels, you are more likely to follow your workout routine, enjoy time with family and friends, and do things that make your weight loss journey more enjoyable.
Lose Weight and Keep It Off
Eating eggs won’t magically shed fat, but considering all the great things it does for your body – from keeping you full to increasing energy levels, your weight loss goals are just around the corner. Eating eggs for breakfast may be all you need to do to keep your cravings off until the next meal. With the increased HDL levels you enjoy with egg consumption, you have a lowered risk of heart issues.
Another reason why eggs can help you lose weight is that they are low in calories. You can have a complete meal with just two to four eggs and a few vegetables while keeping your calorie intake low. Additional research also shows that eating a high protein diet can boost metabolism by up to 100 calories daily.
Incorporating eggs into your diet is very easy, making it a sustainable path to weight loss. All you need are a few minutes to either boil, scramble, or bake your eggs, and you have a healthy, affordable meal. Starting your day with an egg breakfast is especially beneficial for weight loss. Several studies on overweight women who ate eggs for breakfast show a 65 percent greater weight loss over two months.
Healthiest Way to Cook and Eat Eggs
Now that we have debunked the egg myths and realized why an egg could be considered a superfood, the question is: How should you cook eggs to get the most nutritional value? Although eggs are so versatile that they can be eaten raw, cooking is essential to destroy any bacteria. Among the most common cooking methods are baking, boiling, poaching, scrambling, making an omelet, and microwaving.
Cooking eggs not only removes harmful bacteria, but also makes some nutrients more digestible. For example, studies show that protein becomes more digestible when it is heated. The difference in the ability of the body to absorb protein in raw eggs versus cooked eggs is 51 percent and 91 percent, respectively.
But there is a word of caution: overcooking eggs, especially at a high temperature, can reduce the content of some nutrients. For instance, the vitamin A content of cooked eggs is reduced by up to 20 percent, and the same is true with the beneficial antioxidants found in the egg.
So how do you get the most out of eggs? First, use a cooking method that uses fewer calories, such as boiling or poaching eggs. Second, add a few vegetables to make your meal complete. Third, look for the best quality eggs, pasture-raised or organic eggs if possible to get higher nutrition, and lastly, never overcook your eggs.