Egg is one of the few foods considered to be a complete protein source as it contains all nine essential amino acids. Besides being a source of high-quality protein, eggs also contain many important vitamins and minerals. Let’s take a look at the health benefits and nutritional value of eggs!
Eggs have been an important part of our daily diet. They are often used for breakfast, baking and as an ingredient in many foods.
Chicken eggs are the most commonly eaten eggs and are highly nutritious. They are also one of the least expensive single-food sources of complete protein which contains all essential amino acids for humans.
The color of eggs varies depending on the species and breed of the chicken. They can be white, brown, or even blue-green. Generally, white-feathered chickens with white ear lobes lay white eggs and brown-feathered chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs. There is no nutritional difference between these eggs.
Human protein is composed of 20 different amino acids and nine of these amino acids need to be obtained through the diet. Eggs are one of the few foods that provide all the nine essential amino acids. The nine essential amino acids are:
Health Benefits of Eggs
1. Keep the eyes healthy
Egg yolk contains lutein and zeaxanthin, and these carotenoids have been shown to protect against macular degeneration, a serious age-related eye disease.
According to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the carotenoids in egg yolks are better absorbed than those from plant sources due its fat content .
2. Maintain brain health
Choline is an essential nutrient found in egg yolk. It is used to maintain the structure of all cell membranes. Choline also serves as the key ingredient in the manufacture of neurotransmitters, so that brain cells can communicate between each other and with muscle cells.
Many people do not get enough choline. For example, a Canadian study in pregnant women found that only 23 percent meet the adequate intake of choline .
According to the Institute of Medicine, adequate choline intake is 550 milligrams per day for men and breastfeeding women, 450 milligrams per day for pregnant women, and 425 milligrams per day for women . One large egg contains 126 milligrams of choline, or roughly a quarter the recommended daily supply, making eggs an excellent source of this essential nutrient.
3. Promote muscle growth
Whole eggs are considered an ideal food for bodybuilders as they provide all the essential amino acids needed to build and repair lean muscles.
Whole eggs also provide a good source of B vitamins which are important for a variety of processes in your body, including energy production.
Research has shown that consuming whole eggs led to a significantly greater increase in muscle protein synthesis than just consuming the egg whites .
4. Aids weight loss
Eggs are high in protein which help boost metabolism and burns calories. Eggs also keep you feel fuller for longer so that you eat less.
In a study from 2013, adult male participants who ate eggs for breakfast required smaller lunches and seemed to feel more full than those who ate carbohydrate-rich breakfasts .
5. Maintain bone health
The vitamin D found in eggs help maintain optimum bone health. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, maintains high levels of calcium in the blood, and contributes to bone growth .
Having them on a regular basis can lead to stronger bones and prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
6. Lower breast cancer risk
Several studies have shown that women who eat eggs have a lower risk of developing breast cancer.
A study of Chinese women published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention in 2005 showed that those who consumed the most fruits, vegetables, and eggs, were significantly less likely to have breast cancer. For those that reported eating at least six eggs per week, the risk of developing breast cancer was 44 percent lower than for those who ate two or less eggs per week .
Another study published in 2003 found that women who reported higher consumption of eggs, vegetable fat and fiber during adolescence had a smaller risk of developing breast cancer as adults .
7. Raise HDL (good) cholesterol
Eating eggs can increase your HDL (high-density lipoprotein) levels, which is known as the “good” cholesterol. People who have higher HDL levels tend to have a lower risk of heart disease.
A study has shown that eating two eggs a day for six weeks increased HDL levels by 10 percent .
8. Hair care
Eggs are packed with proteins, B vitamins, and biotin, which are all essential hair nutrients. The proteins help stimulate new hair growth and nourish it while the biotin and B vitamins help curb hair loss by strengthening the roots of your hair.
9. Good for pregnant women
Eggs are a great source of protein which is required during pregnancy to support growth of new cells in your baby. A serve of two eggs provides nearly 100 percent of the additional protein requirements for pregnancy.
The folate, or vitamin B9, found in eggs is also very important during the early stages of pregnancy. It is needed for the growth of new cells and genes.
Eggs are one of a few food sources of choline and they provide more choline per kilojoule than most other foods. Choline is required for the normal development of brain tissue in infants and it helps prevent neural tube defects. Therefore, eggs are highly recommended for pregnant women.
Nutritional Value of Eggs
Eggs are one of nature’s most nutrient-dense foods. They are a complete source of protein, which contain all of the essential amino acids necessary for human body. Eggs are also also packed with vitamin A, B, D, E, selenium, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron.
The most nutrients in eggs are found in the yolk. The white, on the other hand, is only contains protein along with potassium, sodium, and lower amounts of fat and calories than the yolk.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one large (50 grams) egg (raw) contains:
- Calories: 72
- Selenium: 15.4 mcg (23% Daily Value)
- Riboflavin: 0.2 mg (14% Daily Value)
- Protein: 6.3 g (13% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B12: 0.45 mcg (11% Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 99 mg (10% Daily Value)
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.7 mg (7% Daily Value)
- Folate: 24 mcg (6% Daily Value)
- Vitamin A: 270 IU (5% Daily Value)
- Iron: 0.9 mg (5% Daily Value)
- Vitamin D: 41 IU (4% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg (4% Daily Value)
- Zinc: 0.6 mg (4% Daily Value)
- Calcium: 28 mg (3% Daily Value)
- Vitamin E: 0.5 mg (2% Daily Value)
- Magnesium: 6.0 mg (2% Daily Value)
- Potassium: 69.0 mg (2% Daily Value)
How to Pick a Good Egg
To make sure you buy good quality eggs, follow these guidelines:
- Choose eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
- Purchase eggs from a refrigerated case.
- Don’t buy out-of-date eggs.
- Look for the USDA grade shield or mark. This will ensure the eggs have been inspected so they meet standards for quality and size.
How to Store and Handle Eggs Safely
Store raw eggs in their original carton on an inside shelf in the refrigerator (40 °F). For best quality, use within 5 weeks after bringing them home. If an egg cracks in the carton, break it into a clean container, cover tightly, keep refrigerated, and use within two days. Hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) may be refrigerated for up to a week.
Some eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria that may cause serious food poisoning. To avoid this, make sure you wash hands, utensils, and work areas with hot, soapy water, before and after contact with eggs.
Also, be sure to cook eggs thoroughly until the white and yolk is firm. It is extremely important to destroy any harmful bacteria that might be present.