Are eggs healthy? This is one of the most commonly asked question in the health and fitness circles. This is because eggs are a favorite food across many cultures, and the experts do not seem to agree as to whether they are healthy or unhealthy. In this post we shall look at the benefits of eating eggs.
Many if not most bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts in general swear by the health and muscle building power of eggs. This is for one reason, they work. So, why are eggs so demonized?
Quick note: While there are various types of edible eggs with varying nutrition value and taste, for this post we shall be talking about the good old chicken egg or hen egg.
Why Are Eggs Demonized?
Eggs controversy is nothing new. It has been around perhaps since somebody thought to raise the question, and all kinds of the answers started coming. And, it appears, it is not going away any time soon. And the often-contradicting answers, most if not all claiming to be science-based, will keep coming. But why the demonization of eggs?
Well, it comes down to the one thing that seems to be evil of all evils in the modern-day health milieu; cholesterol.
Most people would be surprised to find out that we actually need cholesterol to live and to be healthy. Yes, cholesterol is not an ugly word. It is part and parcel of a healthy body. So, what is the issue with cholesterol?
The problem is a type of cholesterol known as low-density lipoprotein, or LDL. This is the bad cholesterol whose elevated levels is linked to clog your arteries and put you at risk of heart disease and stroke.
Now, eggs do contain a rather high amount of dietary cholesterol. However, it is important to understand the distinction between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol, something most people don’t.
The science behind the cholesterol issue is changing. Dietary cholesterol, that you get from food including eggs is no longer of much concern. Blood cholesterol is what should concern us as far as our health goes. Most of this cholesterol is made by the body, mainly in the liver.
Eggs are also thought to be high fat food. Not only is this notion erroneous as an egg contains just about 5 grams of fat. Nay, most of that is monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, both of which are healthy.
The demonization of eggs is therefore based on outdated or erroneous information.
To Eat or Not to Eat the Yolk?
Now the next big question around the egg. Should you eat the yolk?
The biggest bone of contention around the egg is the yolk. I’m sure you already know what this is but I will tell you all the same; it is the round yellow part. While the egg has been vilified over the years, the yolk takes the brunt. This is because it carries most of the cholesterol in the egg (200mg).
For many years bodybuilders, as well as health and fitness enthusiasts ate only egg whites, discarding the yolk. Many still do.
However, most the most important nutrients in the egg are found in the yolk. These include protein, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, lutein, and lecithin.
So, yes, you certainly should eat the yolk to get the full health benefits of eggs.
Do Eggs Increase Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke?
When scientists found a link between high blood cholesterol and heart disease, eggs and other foods with high cholesterol content became suspect. However, as mentioned earlier, the notion that high dietary cholesterol equal high blood cholesterol is not accurate, and has since been abandoned.
Saturated fats have since become the bad kid on the block, and are now linked to elevated blood cholesterol levels. But, as if to confuse us even further, there has been controversial findings on this too, with some studies even suggesting that saturated fats may actually be good for you.
Moreover, eggs are relatively low in saturated fats, containing only about 1.5 grams per (large) egg. Therefore, an egg a day won’t increase your saturated fats intake all that much.
One study reviewed data on eggs spanning 33 years and involving 276,000 participants, with interesting results. The researchers found no association between eating an egg each day and coronary heart disease or stroke risk. Not only that but, they found that eating one egg a day may actually lower risk of stroke by 12 percent.
Health and Other Benefits of Eggs
Now let’s look at some health benefits of eggs:
1. High in Protein and Amino Acids
Before there were protein supplements there was the egg. Eggs are one of the best natural sources of high biological value (BV) inexpensive protein. High BV means they easily absorbed and in used in the body.
They are one of the favorite muscle and strength building foods among bodybuilders and other athletes for a reason; they are a power-packed superfood.
Before whey and other protein supplements, athletes would blend raw eggs with fruits and nuts to make protein shakes. Those who could stand it simply ate them raw. And we are talking about as many as a dozen or more eggs a day.
You need protein to build muscle mass, also known as lean mass. Increased lean mass helps raise resting metabolism so you burn more fat.
Eggs provide complete protein, meaning that contain all the essential the essential amino acids in optimal ratios.
2. Versatile, Delicious and Easy to Prepare
There is a reason many people love eggs, they make a quick, delicious, and nutritious meal. Not only are eggs easy and quick to prepare, but they also used a part of other meals. A boiled egg or two can be added to salad, for instance. Eggs make the perfect on-the go meal.
They can be fried in various ways according to one’s taste including sunny side up, over easy, or over medium or over hard. They can be scrambled, or made into an omelet. They can be boiled or poached. They can be hard-cooked, medium cooked, or soft-cooked. And, if you can stand it, they can be “eaten” raw.
Okay, technically this is not a health benefit. But it is a benefit, and an important one for that matter, right?
3. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease
Contrary to popular belief, eggs are actually good for your heart. The reason they have received bad rap as fat as cardiovascular health goes, it the cholesterol content. As mentioned earlier, dietary cholesterol has little to do with blood cholesterol.
Eggs contain a number of nutrients including vitamins and minerals, as well as unsaturated fats that are linked to lower risk of health disease.
4. Support Eye Health
Vitamins and other nutrients in eggs, including lutein and vitamin A promote good eye health and function. Vitamin A is key for good vision, cell growth, and a healthy immune system. This vitamin also protects the corneas of your eyes and reduces risk of night blindness.
Lutein is a carotenoid and powerful antioxidant that has been linked to eye health. It may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a condition that can lead to blindness in older years. One study found that people who took lutein supplements alone or in combination of other antioxidants had less loss of vision than those who took a placebo.
5. May Boost Brain Health and Memory
Eggs contain choline, a water-soluble vitamin-like essential nutrient that not many people know about. It is also a nutrient whose deficiency is common, with some sources putting it at 90% of the population in the United States.
Choline has benefits for brain function and memory. One study showed people who get plenty of it may perform better in cognitive and memory tests, and are less likely to show brain changes associated with dementia.
Though discovered as far back as in 1862, it would not be 1998 that choline was recognized as an essential nutrient. This means that it is required by the body for normal function, and it cannot be made in the body itself and therefore must come from an outside source.
Egg yolks are the most concentrated source of choline in the American diet. There’s another reason to eat the yolk.
6. Support Strong Bones
Eggs often do not make the list of foods that support bone health. However, the do provide certain nutrients that are linked to bone health and strength.
Eggs provide non-dairy calcium, and a good amount of dietary vitamin D, all of which have been linked to bone health. Vitamin D promotes absorption of calcium as well as regulates calcium levels in the blood, therefor ensuring optimal calcium for bone strength.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It is also the important protein in connective tissue, skin, and bones.
A study on rats showed that showed egg yolk water-soluble peptide (YPEP) may be “a promising alternative to current therapeutic agents for the management of osteoporosis”. A six-month randomized double-blind placebo clinical study involving 65 perimenopausal women showed supplementation with 100mg yolk-derived peptide preparation (HYP) daily to have antiosteoporotic effects.
7. Boost Energy, Aid Recovery
Eggs are rich in choline which not only may boost brain function (#5 above), but is also involved in metabolism and the functioning of the central nervous system. They’re also rich in eggs in leucine, an essential as well as branched-chain amino acid that helps the body use energy and recover after exercise.
A study that reviewed more than 25 published research papers on protein showed that protein in eggs may contribute strength, power, and energy for endurance training. Eggs may therefore be a great food choice for athletes who participate in endurance sports.
Go Ahead, Eat Some Eggs
The above are just a few health benefits you can get from eating eggs. Eggs are one of the top superfoods to support a healthy and/or active lifestyle you can get, and unbeatable when it comes to value for your money. So (unless you have allergy or other medical or social-cultural reason) go right ahead and eat eggs. They really are good for you.
 HSPH: Eggs
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