No longer the demon of the grocery cooler, eggs are now recognized to have plenty of nutritional benefits. Eating more eggs is a fantastic way to give yourself a health boost. But remember, eating the whole egg is vital – the goodness is found in the yolk (containing over 90 percent of its calcium and iron) and the white (containing almost half the egg’s protein).
If you’re not eating eggs regularly, here are five reasons why you should:
1. Get your vitamins
One little egg is packed with several vitamins essential to your health, Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which helps your body to break down food into energy: Vitamin B12 (cobalamin), vital for producing red blood cells: Vitamin A (retinol), which is great for your eyesight: Vitamin E (tocopherol), which fights off the free radicals that can cause tissue and cellular damage, which may lead to cancer: Vitamins A and B2 are also important for growth – so make sure your kids are eating eggs regularly too.
2. Boost your weight loss by eating eggs
Did you know that eating eggs can help you lose weight? This might come as a surprise to those who think of them as “fattening” or “unhealthy” – but a study carried out by the Rochester Center for Obesity Research found that eating eggs for breakfast helps limit your calorie intake all day, by more than 400 calories. That means you could lose three pounds or more per month. You can lose this weight because it keeps you full for longer – this means you’re less likely to succumb to a mid-morning snack or stuff yourself at lunchtime. And although they contain cholesterol, this is “dietary cholesterol” – different from the “blood cholesterol” in your body. Despite the health recommendations of the past, there’s no evidence that eating eggs will increase your blood cholesterol levels.
3. Take in essential minerals
Eggs have iron, zinc, and phosphorus – minerals that are vital for your body. Women need plenty of iron due to menstruation, not getting enough could leave you feeling tired, run down and grumpy. Zinc keeps your immune system in top form and helps your body turn food into energy. Phosphorus is vital for healthy bones and teeth. And, as a bonus, there are some trace elements (minerals you need in small amounts) in eggs – iodine, required to make thyroid hormones, and selenium, an antioxidant that can help cut your risk of cancer.
4. Indulge in low-calorie protein
One medium egg contains just 70 to 85 calories – and about 6.5 grams of protein. That means three eggs (210 to 255 calories) provide 19.5 grams of protein – the average woman needs about 50 grams a day, so that’s almost half of your daily intake. Eating a three-egg Spanish omelet, or three scrambled or poached eggs on toast, will keep you full for hours.
5. Prevent breast cancer
Research by Harvard University in 2003 found that eating eggs as an adolescent could help prevent breast cancer as an adult. In 2005, another study showed that women eating at least six eggs per week had a 44 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who ate two or fewer each week. In April 2008, researchers from the University of North Carolina found that choline (present in egg yolks) can reduce the risk of breast cancer by 24 percent. The yolk contains 125.5 milligrams of choline, about a quarter of the recommended daily intake. Just two poached eggs for breakfast provides half your choline for the day.
How to select and store
Go organic! – Testing has confirmed without a doubt that actual free-range eggs are far more nutritious than commercially raised eggs. In a 2007 egg-testing project, Mother Earth News compared the official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs with eggs from hens raised on pasture and found that the latter typically contains:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
The dramatically superior nutrient levels are most likely the result of the differences in diet between free ranging, pastured hens and commercially farmed hens.
You should always visually inspect your eggs before purchasing. It is best to check for cracks or liquid in the box to ensure there are no broken ones. They are better if stored in the refrigerator where they may remain for up to one month (check the best-before-date on the box). Eggs with higher omega-3 fatty acid content are best eaten as early as possible to keep these oils fresh.
Top tip: A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float