Mistakenly maligned for contributing to heart disease and stroke, eggs were strictly limited or off the menu entirely for decades. Fortunately, those days are behind us, and eggs have regained their rightful status as one of nature’s most perfect foods. Nutrient-dense as well as versatile and easy to cook, eggs can be prepared for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Eggs also make a perfect snack: hard-boiled eggs are portable and require no packaging – just a sprinkle of salt and pepper once peeled.
The erroneous dietary cholesterol scare in the mid-20th century resulted from a misunderstanding of the impact of dietary cholesterol on serum cholesterol, and the misconception that dietary cholesterol contributes to heart disease. In fact, dietary cholesterol is a symptom – the body makes cholesterol and stores dietary cholesterol in response to damage to the blood vessels, which occur for numerous reasons, usually related to oxidative stress from a diet rich in sugar, refined flours and oxidized fatty acids such as hydrogenated oils, or trans-fats.
Now considered a “superfood” eggs are valued as a protein-rich food which contain all of the essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in the ratios that are most accessible to the human body, making egg protein extremely bio-available.
In addition to containing over 6mg of protein each, eggs also contain important vitamins and minerals as well as nutrients such as choline, which is an important brain food and has been shown to protect against breast cancer. A 2008 study found that choline can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 24 percent. An egg yolk contains 125 milligrams of choline, about a quarter of the recommended daily intake, so just two poached eggs for breakfast provides half of your choline for the day. In a study from 2005, women who ate at least six eggs per week had a 44 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who ate two or fewer eggs each week.
Rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, eggs offer a strong defense against cataracts and macular degeneration. Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful anti-oxidants which build up in the eye’s retina and counteract the degenerative processes that can affect our eyes. In one controlled trial, eating only 1.3 egg yolks per day for 4.5 weeks increased blood levels of lutein by 28-50% and zeaxanthin by 114-142% supporting eye health and resistance to degenerative eye conditions.
The nutritional breakdown of a single large egg is impressive:
- 6.25 grams of protein
- 5 grams of healthy fat
- 75 calories
- 125 mg of Choline
- 273 IU of Vitamin A
- 19.6 IU of Vitamin D
- 26.3 mg of Folate
- 29.7 mg of Calcium
- 75 mg Potassium
- 107 mg Phosphorus
- 6.7 mg of Magnesium
Quality really matters when it comes to reaping the health benefits of eggs. Pastured eggs are from the healthiest (and probably happiest chickens) but organic eggs are also good if pastured eggs are hard to find.