I honestly cringe when I think about all of the years I spent throwing out the egg yolks when making an omelette. Just like many of you out there, the mainstream media of the 90s had gotten to my head and made me legitimately scared of fat and cholesterol! Now, with a newfound foundation of genuine nutritional knowledge, I view eggs and their yolks like the prized gems that they are and eat them just about every day! Here's why you should too...
The Deal With Cholesterol
So let's get this straight once and for all. Yes, an egg yolk has cholesterol, about 212 milligrams to be precise. However, research shows that moderate consumption of eggs does not have an impact on blood cholesterol levels [II]. Studies have also shown that eating two eggs per day does not affect a person's lipid profile and may actually improve it [IV].
Plus, we need to acknowledge the fact that we absolutely need cholesterol because it gives every one of our cells its structure and every hormone in our bodies is synthesized from it. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, DHEA and aldosterone all rely on this substance in order to be produced. This means that to get a healthy sleep, feel energetic and have a healthy sex drive, we need cholesterol.
Healthy Hair Skin and Nails
Many people find that their hair grows faster after adding eggs to their diet. This is likely because eggs have a high sulfur content and a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Sulfur is stored in the hair, nails and skin and is what gives egg salad that pungent smell. Sulfur is necessary for the formation of collagen, the protein found in connective tissues within our bodies. It is also present in keratin, which is necessary for the maintenance of the skin, hair, and nails. This explains why often sulfur is often described as the "beauty mineral".
Eggs are full of essential amino acids, making them one of the most complete protein sources available, contain about 6 grams of protein each. They can provide increased energy levels and help to build muscle mass. In addition, eggs do not adversely affect blood sugar levels so they will also help to sustain your energy level.
Eggs are also one of the very few natural food sources of vitamin D. This nutrient not only gives you energy but also partners with calcium to build and maintain healthy bones.
The protein, as well as the healthy fat content in eggs promotes satiety and keeps us fuller, longer. With a reduced appetite, you're more likely to reduce the number of calories you consume for the rest of the day. In one study, participants saw significant weight loss over a period of eight weeks after replacing their morning bagel with an egg breakfast [III].
Eggs can be prepared in nutritious ways to keep calories low. For instance, you can eat hard-boiled eggs and poached eggs to control calorie intake. Per egg, you will only consume approximately 70 to 80 calories.
Improved Brain Function
Eggs are an amazing source of choline, each containing about 113 milligrams. Choline is found in the cells of the brain and is required for optimal function. Choline is used by the cells to send messages between the nerves and muscles of the body. This micronutrient is especially important for pregnant women to consume in order to support the growth of their developing child's brain.
Eggs may even help to prevent breast cancer. In one study, women who consumed at least 6 eggs per week lowered their risk of breast cancer by 24% [I]. This is mainly attributed to the choline in the egg's yolk, but could also be linked to the cholesterol needed to make estrogen and progesterone, two hormones that play very important roles in female health.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two powerful antioxidants that are found in large amounts within eggs. These nutrients tend to congregate in the retina of the eye and have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
Phew! That's a lot of nutrients in a small package!
Good Decisions recommends purchasing your eggs locally if possible, laid from hens that were treated humanely and not fed genetically modified food or given excessive antibiotics. If you don't have a local source, seek out organic "free range" or "pasture range" eggs which typically means that the chickens have enhanced outdoor access. "Cage free" is a tricky, overused term these days which often still implies that they are packed into crowded spaces and have no outdoor access.
The better any animal is treated, the more nutritious it's products will be...always.
If you haven't been much of an egg person in the past, try giving them a go again by jazzing things up a bit. Try them scrambled mexican-style with black beans, peppers and fresh cilantro or add fresh chanterell mushrooms and bacon!
If you already love your eggs but you're getting bored with the same old over-easy for breakfast, change up your morning routine with one of these!
Remember that a serving of eggs per day is an incredibly healthy part of a well-balanced diet...and that the majority of the nutrition is in the yolks, so eat them up!
[I] "Essential nutrient found in eggs reduces risk of breast cancer by 24 percent." EurekAlert! The Global Source for Science News. April 3, 2008. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/epr-enf040208.php>.
[II] Fernandez ML. "Rethinking dietary cholesterol." Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2012 Mar;15(2):117-21. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22037012>.
[III] JS Vander Wal, A Gupta, P Khosla and N V Dhurandhar. "Egg breakfast enhances weight loss". International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 1545–1551. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v32/n10/abs/ijo2008130a.html>.
[IV] Shirin Pourafshar, et al. "Egg Consumption May Be Associated with Improved Lipid Profiles and Blood Glucose Levels in Men and Women with Metabolic Syndrome." The FASEB Journal, April 2016. vol. 30 no. 1. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.fasebj.org/content/30/1_Supplement/904.28>.