Eggs contain several vitamins and minerals that are essential parts of a healthful diet. In many parts of the world, eggs are a readily available, inexpensive food. In the past, there was some controversy about whether eggs are healthful or not, especially concerning cholesterol. The current thinking, however, is that, in moderation, eggs are healthful, as they can be a good source of protein and other essential nutrients. This article describes the nutritional contents of eggs and possible health benefits and risks. It also gives tips on incorporating more eggs into the diet and looks at egg alternatives.
Eggs can provide a number of health benefits.
Strong muscles: The protein in eggs helps maintain and repair body tissues, including muscle.
Brain health: Eggs contain vitamins and minerals that are necessary for the brain and the nervous system to function effectively.
Energy production: Eggs contain all the nutrients that the body needs to produce energy.
A healthy immune system: The vitamin A, vitamin B-12, and selenium in eggs are key to keeping the immune system healthy.
Lower risk of heart disease: The choline in eggs plays an important part in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine, which may contribute to heart disease.
A healthy pregnancy: Eggs contain folic acid, which may help prevent congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida.
Eye health: The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs help prevent macular degeneration, the leading cause of age-related blindness. Other vitamins in eggs also promote good vision.
Weight loss and maintenance: The protein in eggs can help people feel full for longer. This can reduce the urge to snack and lower a person’s overall calorie intake.
Skin health: Some vitamins and minerals in eggs help promote healthy skin and prevent the breakdown of body tissues. A strong immune system also helps a person look and feel well.
To experience the health benefits of eggs, a person should eat them as part of a balanced diet.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium boiled or poached egg weighing 44 g can provide the following nutrients:
- Energy: 62.5 calories
- Protein 5.5 grams (g)
- Total fat: 4.2 g, of which 1.4 g are saturated
- Sodium: 189 milligrams (mg)
- Calcium: 24.6 mg
- Iron: 0.8 mg
- Magnesium 5.3 mg
- Phosphorus: 86.7 mg
- Potassium: 60.3 mg
- Zinc: 0.6 mg
- Cholesterol: 162 mg
- Selenium: 13.4 micrograms (mcg)
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: 220 mcg
- Folate: 15.4 mcg
Eggs are also a source of vitamins A, B, E, and K.
Egg white and yolk are both rich sources of protein. Around 12.6% of the edible part of an egg is protein. The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults aged 19 and over should consume 46–56 g of protein each day, depending on their age and sex. This should represent 10–35% of their daily calories.
In 2018, one researcher concluded that eggs contain high quality protein and that eating eggs is unlikely to lead to heart disease. While meat can also be a good source of protein, it may contain high levels of less healthful elements, such as saturated fat.
One medium egg contains about 4.2 g of fat, of which 1.4 g are saturated. Most fat in an egg is unsaturated. Experts consider this to be the best type of fat for a balanced diet. Total fat should make up 25–35% of a person’s daily calories, and saturated fat should represent less than 10%. This means that a person who takes in 2,000 calories a day should consume a maximum of 22 g of saturated fat.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Eggs also supply omega-3 fatty acids, mainly in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA helps maintain brain function and vision. These fatty acids are most common in oily fish. Eggs can provide an alternative source for people who do not eat fish.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, and low levels can lead to weak or brittle bones. Eggs naturally contain this vitamin, and some are fortified with vitamin D through hens’ feed. The body synthesizes most of the vitamin D that it needs from sunlight. However, people also need some vitamin D from dietary sources. A medium egg contains around 0.9 mcg of vitamin D, all of which are in the yolk.
One medium egg typically contains 162 mg of cholesterol. In the past, experts recommended limiting the intake of eggs for this reason. However, researchers have not found a link between egg consumption and the risk of heart disease.
There are two types of cholesterol: low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL). “Good” HDL cholesterol appears to reduce levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol. Consuming eggs appears to increase levels of HDL cholesterol and reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. In addition, eggs are low in saturated fat. As a result, their effect on blood cholesterol levels is likely to be clinically insignificant.
Source: Medical News Today