Eggs are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. They’re a perfect protein and the yolk is packed with unique antioxidants that are especially effective at lowering inflammation and improving a variety of important health markers. Eggs also contain a boatload of vitamins that support everything from bone health to brain function.
Most exciting, a number of studies show that eggs play an important role in weight management due to their profound effect on satiety and protective influence on insulin and glucose metabolism.
With all this good news about eggs, how come so many people are still afraid of eggs?!
The history of anti-egg propaganda is widespread and influenced by the common confusion between dietary cholesterol found in food and the cholesterol found in our blood. They’re entirely different and blood cholesterol levels are a result of the combination of carbs and fat that you eat, not the amount of cholesterol you get from food.
Another possible problem associated with eggs is the food that normally accompanies them. Eggs are traditionally eaten with toast or processed meats like sausage or bacon. Or they’re used to bake sweets that are packed with refined carbs and trans fat.
These issues are easily avoided if you include eggs in a well-designed diet that contains plenty of plant-based foods (especially green vegetables), dairy, meat, and fish. With that in mind, this article will review some of the exciting new research about eggs and give you six of the most important benefits of including eggs in your diet.
#1: Lose Body Fat
Everyone knows that in order to lose body fat, you need to create an energy deficit. Eggs can help because they are a complete protein that leads to greater satiety so that you eat less at subsequent meals.
In one study, overweight individuals who had an egg breakfast experienced greater satisfaction so that they ate fewer calories at lunch compared to those who ate a bagel breakfast.
A follow-up study by the same research group found that when cutting calories, having eggs for breakfast daily for 8 weeks enhances reductions in body fat and weight. This study had four study groups: One group cut 1,000 calories from their diet a day and ate eggs for breakfast (egg diet), a second group also cut 1,000 calories from their diet daily and ate a bagel for breakfast (bagel diet), a third group ate normally, but had eggs for breakfast (normal eggs), and a fourth group ate normally, but had a bagel for breakfast (normal bagel).
Results showed that the egg-diet group lost almost 3 kg and reduced waist circumference by 3 cm, which was significantly more than all other groups. Subjects on the egg diet reported less hunger and greater restraint around food than the subjects who were not on a diet! They also reported having more energy and being less tired, as well as experiencing less pain.
Other fat-loss related benefits include the fact that eggs are one of the richest leucine-containing foods. Leucine is the amino acid responsible for maximally triggering protein synthesis, and it can influence hypothalamic regulation of food intake and insulin for a better functioning metabolism.
The Bottom Line: Eggs are the perfect breakfast food because they set your metabolism up for the day.
#2: Improve Cholesterol Markers
Everyone from doctors to the media is confused about cholesterol. The fact is, the cholesterol in foods, such as eggs, and the cholesterol found in your blood are not the same thing. In fact, a number of recent studies show that despite containing a hefty 200 mg of cholesterol in your average large egg, frequently eating eggs will improve your cholesterol markers more than the much heralded “heart healthy” oatmeal.
A recent study compared the effect of two high-fat, carbohydrate-restricted diets in overweight men—both diets included 18 percent carbs, 26 percent protein, and 56 percent fat, but one group ate three eggs a day.
After 12 weeks, the group that ate eggs lost slightly more total body fat (nearly 5 kg total) and increased their “good” HDL cholesterol level from an average of 47 mg/dL to 57 mg/dL and maintained total cholesterol levels at 194 mg/dL. The group that didn’t eat eggs had no change in cholesterol at all. Plasma triglycerides, which when elevated lead to high cholesterol levels, were decreased in both groups by an average of 45 percent.
Researchers believe cholesterol levels improved due to the fact that the daily egg consumption raised levels of adiponectin by the end of the study. Adiponectin is a hormone involved in fat burning that reduces circulating triglycerides, which correlate with heart disease risk.
The Bottom Line: Eggs can safely be included in a sensible diet to improve cholesterol markers.
#3: Reduce Dangerous Inflammation
Eggs are a super anti-inflammatory food, effectively lowering various markers of dangerous inflammation. A Mexican study of type 2 diabetics (a population that typically has high levels of inflammation) found that an egg breakfast improved inflammatory markers more than an oatmeal breakfast. The egg group had an egg a day at breakfast for five weeks and significantly reduced levels of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), amino-transferase (AST), and IL-6—all markers of inflammation.
Cholesterol markers also improved to the same degree in both breakfast conditions. This is noteworthy because oatmeal is widely recommended as a heart-healthy breakfast. Researchers think that the fact that eggs are rich in a number of highly bioavailable antioxidants, lutein, zeaxanthin, and selenium, led to the favorable cholesterol and inflammatory outcomes.
The Bottom Line: Eggs are an affordable “superfood,” protecting against dangerous, health-degrading inflammation and are just as useful for healthy cholesterol levels as oatmeal.
#4: Improve Muscle Mass
Before the days when protein powders were all the rage and you had your choice of everything from espresso to pumpkin pie flavored protein powder, the go to recovery source was eggs. Eggs, particularly raw, were considered the perfect post-workout snack, being rich in protein and leucine, which is the most important amino acid for building muscle.
In addition, there’s evidence that the cholesterol in eggs supports hormone production for higher levels of muscle-building hormones such as testosterone. For example, a preliminary study showed that a higher intake of dietary cholesterol improved the anabolic response to weight training.
There’s no need to go raw with your eggs—research shows that cooked eggs are actually better digested because the protein in eggs is more bioavailable when heated. Cooked egg protein is 94 percent digestible compared to 55 to 64 percent when raw.
The Bottom Line: Eggs are a super workout food that can give you greater gains with intense training.
#5: Support Peak Athletic Performance
It baffles well-informed nutritionists that most people view egg whites as the only healthy way to eat eggs. It’s the egg yolk that provides all the hard-to-get nutrients that make the egg the most affordable superfood on the planet: Vitamin D, B vitamins, choline, minerals, carotenoids, and fatty acids.
One group of sports scientists write that this blend micronutrients go hand in hand with elite performance and could have a currently unreached ergogenic effect.
The Bottom Line: Don’t lose out on being all you can be by throwing out the most nutritious part of the egg.
#6: Better Cognition & A Healthy Brain
Eggs are a substantial source of choline, an essential nutrient involved in cognitive function. Choline is used to make a critical neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which improves motivation and mental focus.
Scientists are now testing the role of eggs in protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and preserving cognitive function during aging. Early studies show the combination of easily assimilated nutrients in whole eggs can improve working memory and recall in the elderly.
The Bottom Line: Eggs are rich in nutrients that make you smarter—eating them regularly is a no-brainer!