Although eggs are a breakfast staple for many people, they tend to be frowned upon for their cholesterol content. But you might be surprised to learn that eggs contain eight essential nutrients, protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Plus, they’re affordable, easy to cook, and versatile. And believe it or not, the cholesterol in eggs is not actually linked to increased blood cholesterol levels. Here are some of the top reasons to have an egg a day and some great ways to include them in your daily meal plan.
Nutritional Value of Eggs
A large egg contains an abundance of nutrients, including:
5 grams of fat
185 milligrams of cholesterol
70 milligrams of sodium
0 grams of carbohydrates
0 grams of fiber
0 grams of sugar
6 grams of protein
1 mcg vitamin D (6% (daily value) DV)
80 mcg vitamin A (8% DV)
0.2 milligrams of riboflavin (15% DV)
0.5 mcg vitamin B12 (20% DV)
28 mcg iodine (20% DV)
15 mcg selenium (25% DV)
150 mg of choline (25% DV)
The health benefits of eggs
Looking at the nutritional facts, it’s no surprise that eggs are synonymous with cholesterol. But recent research has determined that cholesterol consumption is not associated with increased blood cholesterol. “While previous research confused the public about whether it was really safe to eat eggs regularly for fear of cardiovascular disease, recent research has since refuted that notion,” said dietitian Elizabeth Shaw.
In fact, the American Heart Association recommends eggs as a source of protein in a heart-healthy diet. A study of more than 400,000 adults in Europe found no link between egg consumption and the risk of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the study found that higher egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of having a heart attack.
Another similar study showed that eating an egg a day is not correlated with the risk of heart disease. In fact, the authors concluded that egg consumption may even reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Eggs are also one of the only natural food sources of vitamin D, a nutrient that supports calcium absorption for bone health. Vitamin D plays a role in many other bodily functions, such as fighting inflammation, cell growth, immune function, and glucose metabolism. The main source of vitamin D is sunlight, but blood levels often fluctuate depending on skin color, time spent outdoors, and geographic location. Many people suffer from a vitamin D deficiency at some point in their lives, but a study has found that eating one egg a day can help prevent deficiencies that commonly occur during the winter months.
“Eggs are also one of the most concentrated sources of choline, an important vitamin that most Americans don’t get enough of in their diets,” Shaw said. This little-known essential nutrient is integral to the functioning of the liver, brain, and muscles, as well as the metabolism and composition of cell membranes. Most notably, choline is involved in the development of the brain and spinal cord of the fetus, making it a crucial nutrient for pregnant women.
Additionally, the Academy of Pediatrics has declared choline to be a brain-building nutrient and recommended that all pediatricians emphasize the importance of this nutrient to caregivers. It’s no wonder that “the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend incorporating eggs as an important first fundamental food for infants because of their complete nutrient profile that aids in growth and development,” explained Shaw.
Finally, eggs contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants known to improve or prevent macular disease, the leading cause of blindness and visual impairment. Lutein and zeaxanthin also aid cognitive function and reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Are there any downsides to eating eggs?
While people previously believed that dietary cholesterol was the culprit for raising blood cholesterol levels, new research indicates that saturated fat is actually the primary determinant of high cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 5% of daily calories (11 grams) from saturated fat.
One large egg contains 1.5 grams of saturated fat, or just over 13% of the daily value (in a 2,000 calorie diet). Therefore, eating more than one egg a day can really add up, especially if you eat other animal foods. Although eggs have many health benefits, it is best to limit your intake to one or two eggs per day.
3 fun facts about eggs
Hull color doesn’t matter
Believe it or not, brown eggs are no more nutritious or better quality than white eggs. The only difference in eggshell color is the bird that laid the eggs. White-feathered hens lay white eggs, while red-feathered hens lay brown eggs.
And Shaw said eggshells can actually be used for something: “Don’t throw those shells away! You can use them in your garden as nutrient-rich compost.
Most nutrition is in the yolk
“Contrary to what you might see on social media, you actually want to eat the whole egg (yep, yolk included) to get all the nutritional benefits,” Shaw said. The yolk contains most of the nutrients, including the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, plus all of the choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Eggs are good for post-workout recovery
Research suggests eating at least 20 grams of protein after a workout promotes muscle protein synthesis. And proteins containing the amino acid leucine have been shown to be the most effective for muscle repair and growth. One large egg contains 6 grams of high quality protein with all nine essential amino acids (including leucine). Not to mention that eggs are inexpensive and easy to cook after an intense workout.
Healthy Egg Recipes
Eggs are a breakfast staple, but they are also good for lunch and dinner. Here are some creative ways to use eggs.
Breakfast: A simple vegetable-stuffed omelet is an easy and delicious breakfast that comes together in minutes. Frittatas and soufflés are two egg-centric dishes that can be made ahead for busy mornings.
Lunch/Brunch: Invite friends over for brunch and impress them with a healthy quiche Lorraine or deviled egg toast. And if you’re really hungry, opt for a double-decker egg salad sandwich or a brunch burger topped with a fried egg.
Having dinner: Make low-fat spaghetti carbonara, add eggs to the griddle for quick and easy protein, or top homemade ramen with a boiled egg.
How many calories in:
This article originally appeared on TODAY.com
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