You may well have heard that eggs are a recipe for high cholesterol and heart disease, or that it's common for people to be allergic or intolerant to eggs, or you should limit your egg consumption to so many per week.
Let's dispel some myths around these assumptions.
Nutrition In Eggs & Are eggs good for you?
Myth 1 - eggs are a recipe for high cholesterol and heart disease
Firstly, the consumption of cholesterol-rich foods, such as eggs, has a minimal effect on circulating cholesterol levels in healthy humans (1). Research done by Harvard Medical School shows that most of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver. It doesn't actually come from cholesterol you eat.
What really happens is the liver is stimulated to make cholesterol primarily by saturated and trans fat in your diet, not dietary cholesterol.
A large egg contains only around 1.5 grams of saturated fat, so when it comes to nutrition in eggs it's more about how you cook your eggs and what you serve them with, rather than the egg itself.
For example, the effects on your body from the fats in butter, cheese, bacon, sausage or muffins raises your cholesterol much more than the cholesterol in an egg.
Healthy Heart & Improved Cholesterol Profile
Due to the amazing nutrition in eggs, they can actually help keep your heart healthy and strong. One reason eggs are good for heart health is due to their omega-3 fatty acid content. Eggs have also been shown to regulate cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the bloodstream, balancing the ratio of high density lipoproteins (HDLs - good cholesterol) to low density lipoproteins (LDLs - bad cholesterol).
Aid in Weight Management
Eggs are low in calories and because they are full of protein, which reduces levels of ghrelin (the hunger hormone) as part of a healthy diet eggs can help curb cravings and support weight management, and therefore subsequently heart health.
Myth 2 - it's common for people to be allergic or intolerant to eggs?
It can be quite common for children to be allergic to eggs, but it's rare for adults to develop an egg allergy. Sometimes it might just be that a person discovers in adulthood that they've had an egg allergy since childhood.
While an egg allergy sparks a chemical reaction in the body and you'd therefore experience a reaction quickly, an egg intolerance typically means that you can't process and absorb the egg whites, and / or possibly the egg yolks properly. The effects of which mean egg intolerance reactions can take longer to manifest, and are therefore harder to detect.
If you suffer with gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, headaches, joint pain..., you may find eggs problematic, and therefore helpful when removed from your diet. Where egg intolerance is concerned, the majority of people seem to be okay with the egg yolk, but it's the egg white that their body can't handle.
Unless you're also intolerant to the yolk you can still reap the full goodness from eggs. If you didn't know, almost all the nutrition in eggs is in the egg yolk. The egg white is just the protein. This means you still get to benefit nutritionally from eating just the yolk, and omitting the white.
I did a food intolerance test several years ago and it listed egg white at the top of the results page. So, for a short period I stuck to eating egg yolk only. Now I'm fine with eggs.
Certainly, if you suffer with IBS or leaky gut syndrome you may not do well with eggs. But if all is well digestively, there's a wealth of nutrition in eggs. This is another reason to optimise your gut health.
If you haven't done a food intolerance test. but suspect eggs don't agree with you, try eliminating them from your diet for 14 days. When you re-introduce them back into your diet you should be able to tell whether or not they're causing a problem. If you find that you don't tolerate eggs well then why not try eating the yolk only, this way your body still gets to indulge in egg goodness.
Myth 3: You should limit your egg consumption
It's important to eat a healthy, balanced diet, rich in all macro and micro-nutrients. Eggs can provide your body with lots of nutrients, but I always advise clients to vary their food choices and meal creations, regardless of whether we are talking about eggs, fish, pulses, dairy or meat.
One thing I do recommend though is to choose free-range eggs over conventional eggs. Free-range eggs are healthier and a much safer option.
The condition in which hens are raised to lay eggs drastically affects not only the nutritional content of the eggs, but also the risk of consuming harmful bacteria, such as salmonella. Let's put our health first, and choose to support the best living conditions for those little hens.
Nutrition in eggs - more health benefits
Liver & brain health
Choline, an important micro-nutrient found in eggs can be especially helpful for liver and brain health. One sign of choline deficiency is poor liver function. It's also been found that choline helps improve memory, mood and cognitive function. And one of the best sources of choline in the diet is egg yolk. That's a double whammy on the health benefit front, and all from one single micronutrient.
Eye & Brain Health
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants in the egg yolk that can have a protective effect on your eyes. They help to neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Additionally, they help filter out high-energy blue light to support visual acuity.
Lutein and zeaxanthin tend to accumulate in the macula part of your eye's retina, the sensory part, where they protect your eyes from harmful sunlight.
Research has shown high levels of circulating carotenoids, specifically lutein and zeaxanthin, support many of the following brain functions too:
- Verbal fluency
- Reaction time
- Neural efficiency (processing speed)
Eggs contain high quality protein with a perfect amino-acid profile
Proteins are the main building blocks of the body and consist of amino acids that are linked together.
There are about 21 amino acids that your body uses to build its proteins. Nine of these amino acids cannot be produced by the body and have to be obtained from the diet. They are known as essential amino acids.
The quality of a protein source is determined by its relative amounts of these essential amino acids. A protein source that contains all of them in the right ratios is a high-quality source of protein.
The biological value (a measure of protein quality) is often evaluated by comparing it to eggs, which are given the perfect score of 100.
In summary, eggs are among the most nutritious foods you can find, and provide virtually a full spectrum of vitamins and minerals.
Eggs are also cheap, can make for an easy, tasty and speedy meal, and go with almost any food. They really are an exceptional superfood.
Hi, I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Pain & Stress Management Therapist, and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.
I help people elevate their mind and body health by addressing diet, nutrition and lifestyle symptoms. Let's work together to optimize how you feel and function.
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