Eggs are one of the healthiest, most nutritious foods on the planet—and there’s research to prove it.
How can this be? Aren’t eggs basically cholesterol-filled heart disease bombs?
In reality, eggs are one of the most misunderstood foods—so misunderstood in fact that the scientific journal Nutrients has devoted a whole issue to setting the record straight on why you should eat eggs on a regular basis:
#1: Lower Inflammation
Eggs are a long-neglected superfood that contain the powerful antioxidants selenium, lutein, and zeaxanthin that can reduce inflammation in the body. In a 2013 study of overweight subjects with metabolic syndrome (a condition associated with a high degree of inflammation that puts them at risk of heart disease), eating three eggs a day in conjunction with a diet that lowered overall carb intake (30 percent of calories) resulted in notable reductions in inflammatory markers compared to a group that ate egg substitute.
Researchers believe it is the naturally high concentration of selenium, lutein, and zeaxanthin that help to eradicate inflammation in the body. Selenium is a crucial nutrient in the body’s antioxidant defense system, neutralizing free radicals that harm cells. Zeaxanthin has anti-cancer effects, while lutein improves metabolic health, shifting the body into an anti-inflammatory state.
#2: Improve Cholesterol Levels
The big surprise for many people is that regular egg consumption can actually improve cholesterol levels. Scientists thought this might be true so they did a study that looked not only at the overall LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in response to increasing daily intake of eggs from zero to 3 a day over 12 weeks but also at the changes in particle size of cholesterol markers, which is known to be a stronger predictor of heart disease.
Results showed nothing but benefits from increasing the number of daily eggs in the diet: There was a notable improvement in particle size as well as higher levels of enzymes that are protective against the hardening of the arteries. Overall, intake of 3 eggs a day favored a less atherogenic profile, improved HDL function, and increased plasma antioxidants.
#3: Manage Appetite & Lower Hunger
Eggs may be best known for being one of the best protein sources of all foods because the amino acids they contain are highly absorbable by the body. This makes them great when you want to reduce body fat because they are very satiating and decrease appetite. For example, one study found that individuals who ate eggs for breakfast led to a greater reduction in waist circumference and fewer sensations of hunger than eating a carb-based breakfast daily.
A second study found that had subjects eat 3 eggs a day as part of a low-carb diet resulted in subjects decreasing body fat by 12 pounds over the course of 12 weeks. Of course, this notable fat loss is not just due to eggs—subjects cut carbs, which automatically lowered their calorie intake—but it does mean that eggs can increase fullness and decrease subsequent food intake at later meals.
#4: Increase Nutritional Profile
Besides providing a wealth of amino acids that are used by the body to repair damaged tissue, eggs are also packed with an array of necessary bioavailable nutrients including vitamin D (key for bone formation and has anti-cancer effects) and vitamin K (improves insulin sensitivity and bone health).
They’ve also got health-promoting fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and carotenoids (antioxidants) that improve your overall nutrition. It should be noted that most of these nutrients are supplied in the yolk (the egg whites provide the protein), so don’t be a silly-head and throw out the most nutritious part of the egg!
#5: Improve Brain Health & Focus
Eggs are a substantial source of choline, an essential nutrient involved in cognitive function. Choline is used to make a critical neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which improves motivation and mental focus.
Scientists are now testing the role of eggs in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and preserving cognitive function during aging. Early studies show the combination of easily assimilated nutrients in whole eggs can improve working memory and recall in the elderly.
How Many Eggs?
The research shows that compared to fewer daily eggs, three a day is a sweet spot for improving cholesterol and lowering inflammation. That doesn’t mean that more couldn’t be beneficial, however, we know from stories about the overconsumption of other foods that more is not always better!
One bit of advice is to watch the other foods you eat with eggs: People typically pair eggs with refined carbs (toast and jam) or processed meat (sausage or bacon), which is not a particularly healthy combination. For best results, pair your eggs with unrefined, whole-food carbohydrates or unprocessed meats.