We all know eggs are delicious. But did you know they also reduce your risk of a laundry list of diseases, protect your skin and eyes from UV damage, and improve liver and brain function? It’s true, and they’re just some of the amazing health benefits of eggs.
Eggs have been a popular food for most healthy diets for many years, although they occasionally have a bad connotation for their high cholesterol content. Those criticisms are a bit undeserved, however, as the cholesterol in eggs actually helps regulate the two different types of cholesterol in your body!
As a great protein food (with a complete amino acid profile, I might add), eggs help your body keep building more of the best version of you. (1) They’re such a high-quality source of protein that the World Health Organization uses them as the standard for evaluating protein quality in other foods. In my estimation, eggs are one of the least expensive sources of high-quality protein available in the U.S..
With that in mind, here is what you need to know about the eggs you eat, starting with the six biggest health benefits of eggs.
6 Amazing Health Benefits of Eggs
1. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
Eggs can help keep your heart beating healthier and longer. One of the most exciting health benefits of eggs is their ability to reduce your risk of heart disease and improve cardiovascular function.
A comprehensive study released in 2015 discussed the assumption many people across the world have that the fat content in eggs is actually dangerous to those at risk for heart disease or who have diabetes. However, consuming the right kinds of eggs proved to beneficial across the board, regardless of pre-existing conditions. (2)
One reason (some) eggs are such a heart-healthy food option is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. Free-range eggs (taken from hens raised on a pasture, rather than in battery cages) have double the amount of omega-3s than cage-raised eggs. They also have more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff than cage-raised eggs, but more on that later. Omega-3 fatty acids, consumed as part of a healthy diet, lower blood triglycerides and help regulate and lower cholesterol. (3)
High triglycerides are considered a serious risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and the reverse is also true. Low blood triglyceride levels equal a smaller risk for developing heart disease. (4)
In addition to lowering blood triglycerides, eggs have been observed in clinical trials to regulate cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the bloodstream, balancing the ratio of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) to low-density lipoproteins (LDLs). This also helps lower the risk of coronary heart disease. (5)
2. May Help Prevent Disease
Heart disease isn’t the only common illness that an egg-rich diet can hel prevent. Have you ever heard of metabolic syndrome?
It’s a cluster of conditions that all increase your likelihood of several types of disease. Conditions included in metabolic syndrome include increased blood sugar levels, excess body fat (especially around the waist) and abnormal cholesterol levels. Any one of these conditions increases your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Unfortunately, a guideline for egg consumption has been seen as a very confusing subject for the last several decades. Misinformation and other factors have led to a common recommendation to limit the number of eggs you eat each week to no more than three. The good news? A wealth of current research and rise in general public awareness have contributed to a better understanding of eggs and how they benefit the body.
One study released in early 2016 studied participants over 40 for almost 3.5 years to assess egg consumption as it related to metabolic syndrome. The study suggested that higher egg consumption may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in all adults over 40 and that it had a positive, significant impact on blood glucose and triglyceride levels in men specifically. (6)
In addition to their effect on metabolic syndrome, eggs also contain naturally occurring carotenoids. People on diets rich in carotenoids have longer life spans and lower mortality from a number of chronic illnesses.
In fact, the carotenoids in eggs are especially beneficial to you if you doconsume a lot of leafy greens, because eating cooked eggs alongside raw vegetables actually enhances the absorption of carotenoids from the veggies. (7)
3. Improve Eye Health
Carotenoids aren’t only beneficial for overall health and disease prevention. They also benefit your eye health. Two “oxygenated” carotenoids that are especially important for your eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin.
These two nutrients are found in various places in the body, but they’re the only two of 600 total carotenoids that exist in the eyes — and their concentration is higher there than anywhere else in the body. (8) They function in maintaining eye health by filtering out dangerous high-energy blue spectrums of light and acting as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. (9)
The silent blue light filtering that lutein and zeaxanthin perform in your eyes reduces the chances that you’ll develop many common eye diseases, like macular degeneration and glaucoma. (10) All you have to do is feed your body the foods that make it happen, like eggs.
4. Aid in Weight Loss
Many people are familiar with the role of eggs in a protein-rich diet that’s especially significant for athletes and those who work out regularly. Do you know one reason, other than protein, that eggs are a great food for people who want to lose weight?
Interestingly, it’s because of lutein! Although lutein is famous primarily for its role in eye and skin health, a recent study has determined that lutein also may positively impact a person’s physical activity level. (11)
Add to that the fact that their high protein content makes them filling, one of the health benefits of eggs seems to clearly be their aid in weight loss. So if you’re wondering how to lose 20 pounds or so, eggs make a great addition to your diet. You’ll stay fuller for longer, according to the ranking of eggs on the satiety index, a measure of how well foods make you feel full and keep you from eating more calories over the 36 hours following consumption. (12)
5. Maintain Liver Function and Brain Health
Choline is a macronutrient that our bodies produce in very small amounts, but we mostly need to get it from our food. Eggs are a choline-rich food choice, which means they greatly assist in liver function and brain development, among other features.
The liver depends on choline to operate correctly, and one sign of a choline deficiency is poor liver function. Lower than needed choline levels are correlated with fatty liver disease, and there is research to indicate choline deficiency is also linked to some types of cancers. (13)
In proper amounts, choline has also been found to treat some neurological issues, such as depression, and improve memory and cognitive function. (14)
6. Keep Your Skin Healthy
The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs don’t just protect your eyes by filtering certain light wavelengths. They do the same with your skin. By filtering out the more harmful blue spectrum rays, these carotenoids slow down the oxidative damage light can wreak on your skin, specifically by UV rays. (15)
Eggs contain five of the eight best nutrients that help you to fight and reduce your risk of skin cancer. If you have a risk for skin cancer, eggs can be one of the weapons you use to prevent it happening to you.
Eggs Nutrition Facts
One large, hard-boiled, 50-gram cooked egg contains about: (16)
- 78 calories
- 0.6 gram carbohydrates
- 6.3 grams protein
- 5.3 grams fat
- 186 milligrams cholesterol (62 percent DV)
- 15.4 micrograms selenium (22 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram riboflavin (15 percent DV)
- 44 IU vitamin D (11 percent DV)
- 0.6 microgram vitamin B12 (9 percent DV)
- 86 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
- 293 IU vitamin A (6 percent DV)
- 22 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)
All Eggs Are Not Created Equal
The trickiest part about getting the maximum health benefits of eggs in every serving is to get the right kind of egg. It may seem easier sometimes to just pick up the first carton of eggs you come across. However, the conditions in which hens are raised to lay eggs drastically affects not only the nutritional content of the eggs, but also the risk of consuming dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella.
Here’s the lowdown: You can buy eggs laid by free-range hens (allowed to roam, wander, perch and have a good quality of life), or by cage-raised hens (unable to move or engage in normal activity). Caged hens can’t lie down, stand up, groom themselves or flap their wings. They’re held in cages averaging about 67 square inches of space and usually surrounded by manure pits and infestations of maggots, flies and other insects carrying disease.
Time and time again, the differences between cage-raised and free-range eggs have been apparent. Free-range eggs contain:
- ⅓ less cholesterol
- ¼ less saturated fat
- ⅔ more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta-carotene
Not only do these eggs clearly win in the nutrition category, but free-range eggs are 98 percent less likely to carry salmonella! It’s no surprise, considering how cage-raised hens are expected to live.
The disgusting reality of cage-raised hens includes frequent cannibalism, molting and plucking one another. Unhappy, unhealthy hens, are exposed to salmonella, antibiotics and fed “slaughterhouse waste” — meaning animals who have died in slaughterhouses due to disease or being crippled. That waste can include anything from meat to blood to fecal matter.
These are serious risks we’re looking at here! If you’re anything like me, none of the things I just mentioned are things you want to expose your family to in food.
Do yourself a favor — commit now to buying only free-range eggs. Your body and your health will be better for it.
Article by Dr. Axe