What came first the chicken or the egg? We may never know, but we do know there are many reasons to make eggs an essential part of your diet.
Eggs have been a dietary staple since time immemorial and there’s good reason for their continued presence in our menus and meals. Not only do they offer culinary variety — hard-boiled eggs, omelets, deviled eggs and then some — they are also a source of protein, calcium and several vitamins and nutrients. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating eggs into your diet.
1. It’s a nutritious treat
Though relatively small in size, eggs pack a lot of nutrition and can be an important staple in a well-balanced diet.
One large boiled egg has about 77 calories and contains:
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- Vitamins A, B5, B12, D, E, K, B6
- Six grams of protein
- Five grams of healthy fats
“Eggs are a good source of protein (both whites/yolk). They also contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats and are a great source of important nutrients, such as vitamin B6, B12 and vitamin D,” says Kurt Hong, MD, an internal medicine specialist at Keck Medicine of USC.
2. Eating cholesterol affects different people, well, differently
Yes, it’s true that eggs — specifically egg yolks — are high in cholesterol. A single large egg has approximately 186 mg of dietary cholesterol. However, before eliminating eggs from the menu, it’s worth investigating the dietary guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). One study suggests that eggs don’t raise cholesterol at all for about 70% of people. According to the researchers, cholesterol in the diet doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol in the blood. The remaining 30%, who are called “hyper responders,” can mildly raise total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by consuming eggs.
“As with any food, the key here is consumption in moderation,” says Hong, who is also a clinical professor of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
3. Eggs raise good cholesterol
Eating eggs leads to elevated levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. People who have higher HDL levels have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke and other health issues. According to one study, eating two eggs a day for six weeks increased HDL levels by 10%.
4. Get some choline
Choline is a water-soluble vitamin that is often grouped with the B vitamins. It’s used to build cell membranes and helps produce signaling molecules in the brain. One hard-boiled egg has about 147 mg of choline, which is 27% of the daily value recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
5. Eggs help maintain your eyesight
As we get older, we need to take better care of our eyes. Egg yolks contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, helpful antioxidants that help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration in the eyes. Eggs are also high in vitamin A, which is beneficial for eye health.
6. Some eggs are better for you
Omega-3 helps reduce triglycerides, which are a type of lipid fat in the blood. That’s why eating Omega-3 enriched eggs may be an option, particularly if you don’t enjoy other foods (fish, nuts, seeds) that are naturally rich in Omega-3. (If your triglyceride level is below 150, you’re doing well; 150-199 is borderline high; 200-499 is high; and 500 and above is considered very high.)
7. Get enough proteins and amino acids
Getting enough protein in our diets is an important way of helping our body’s health. Each egg contains about six grams of protein, as well as helpful amino acids. Getting our share of protein for the day can help with weight management, increase muscle mass, lower blood pleasure and help our bones, as well.
8. They’re not bad for the heart
Despite what was believed in previous decades, there is no direct link between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke. But some studies show that people with diabetes who eat eggs increase their chance of heart disease. People who follow a low-carbohydrate diet and eat eggs have less of a chance of developing heart disease, some studies suggest.
9. It’s a filling meal
You might have noticed that eating eggs for breakfast may keep you feeling fuller for longer — that’s generally attributed to the high protein content in eggs. Whether you have an omelette for breakfast or a hard-boiled egg as a snack, eggs can help you stay satisfied after or between meals.
by Ramin Zahed
Do you need more information about your dietary needs? Our family medicine physicians can help guide you. If you are in the Los Angeles area, request an appointment or call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273).