Eggs are budget-friendly, easy to cook and good for you too. However, you may have heard that you should eat them sparingly. Confused by all the conflicting information? Here’s what you need to know about eggs’ benefits.
1. Eggs are a complete protein.
Eggs are more than a good source of protein (with 6 grams in one large egg); they’re also considered a complete protein. They contain all but two amino acids, nine of which are the essential amino acids that your body needs and can’t synthesize. That’s what makes them a high-quality protein. Protein, of course, is the foundation for all of the body’s functions: it helps make hair, build muscles, strengthen bones and make enzymes and hormones.
2. You may not need to worry about the cholesterol in eggs.
The reputation of eggs as a “healthy food” has been sullied in the last few decades because of their high cholesterol content. To give you some perspective, the same large egg that provides all those essential amino acids also delivers 207 milligrams of cholesterol (mostly in the yolk).You can avoid most of the cholesterol by eating just the egg whites, but you’d also be missing out on a lot of the nutrients found in the yolk.
Most people can eat eggs and not worry about the cholesterol in them. If you have high cholesterol or are concerned about heart disease, ask your doctor about your egg intake.
3. They contain vitamin B12.
Eggs are a good source of vitamin B12. Your body uses B12 in DNA, red blood cell production and to keep your nerves functioning properly. Most people get enough B12, but those who follow a vegetarian diet may have low levels (and eating eggs can help).
4. Eggs provide choline.
Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which contributes to your memory, mood, muscle control and nervous system function. Your body doesn’t make quite as much choline as it needs, but one egg contains 30% of the Daily Value.
5. They may help with diabetes by preventing blood sugar spikes.
Several studies show that eggs may help with Type 2 diabetes. One study published in the journal Nutrition Research and Practice found that eating one egg per day was associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in men.
Another study used omelets for breakfast to show that eating a high-fat, low-carb breakfast may help with controlling blood sugar levels throughout the day. Researchers say people with type 2 diabetes typically get the highest blood sugar spike after breakfast, and the egg breakfast seemed to prevent it.
6. Eggs might protect your vision.
Eggs may be good for eye health. Studies show you may lower your risk of age-related vision loss if you get plenty of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are found in egg yolks.
The bottom line? Eggs contain a lot of nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. As with most foods, there may be downsides to eating too many eggs, but if you eat eggs in moderation and incorporate them into a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you can benefit from them.
(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)