About fifteen years ago, when I first started learning about nutrition, I heard that eggs were a great source of protein. The caveat was that I shouldn’t eat too many yolks because of cholesterol. At that time, it was the norm for me to use about 10 eggs in my omelet and I would carefully scoop out about 8 of those yolks. (I used a lot of eggs because there’s only about 3-4 grams of protein in an egg white. Most of the protein and nutrients actually come from the yolk.)
I was young and foolish. So many yolks wasted.
Where’d that myth about egg yolks come from anyway? Well, early studies on eggs didn’t differentiate between the types of cholesterol. So yes, eggs raised cholesterol and were deemed “bad,” but it was the good kind of cholesterol – HDL. What do you expect from a study done by the makers of breakfast cereal – the direct competition of eggs.
Thankfully, most of that egg and cholesterol paranoia has subsided, washed away by the ceaseless tide of a growing body of nutritional science. But many people are still a little wary of eggs.
3 Eggs Per Day
The findings of a recent study (Dimarco, 2017) don’t just suggest that you’re “allowed” to eat an egg or two a day; it actually shows that eating one, two, or preferably three eggs a day will make your heart healthier. Researchers found that:
- Eating eggs improved levels of cholesterol “efflux” and HDL transport. That means the rate at which excess cholesterol was kicked out of the body increased.
- Eating eggs improved particle size. The concentration of large HDL cholesterol particles and large LDL cholesterol particles increased. That’s good, because you want big, “fluffy” cholesterol particles floating around instead of beady-eyed little ones.
- Eating eggs increased antioxidant levels. Participants saw a 20-31% increase in plasma lutein and zeaxanthin, phytochemicals that have a cardioprotective effect.
That’s a lot to love about eggs already. There’s more new evidence to further the cause, particularly when it comes to the development of children.
Choline Boosts Brain Power
Evidence suggests that eggs may start working wonders before children are even born. According to research out of Cornell University, pregnant mothers who supplemented with lots of choline gave birth to babies with improved brain function, faster processing speeds, better visuospatial memory and higher IQs. A micronutrient needed for dozens of body processes, including cell growth and nerve health, choline is found naturally in meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and egg yolks.
The study’s lead author told Science Daily that while choline is so important for expecting mothers, most don’t get enough, “due to current dietary trends and practices”—e.g., avoiding eggs because of fear of cholesterol and fat.
Top 3 Choline Food Sources
Beef Liver (3 oz.): 280mg
Eggs (1 whole egg): 150mg
Shrimp (3 oz.): 120mg
Recommend Daily Intake 400-600 mg/day.
(Aim for the higher end of the range if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or male.)
More Yolk Benefits
The yolks are where the majority of an egg’s nutrition lies.
- The yolk contains more than 90% of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants contained in an egg.
- The yolk contains all the fat, and it’s super healthy, hormone-balancing fat (fat is not bad for us).
- The yolk contains more than half the protein from the egg, and is actually needed to balance out the amino acid profile found in egg whites.
Why in the world would anyone throw out all that nutrition?
Whole eggs are premium, quality nutrition, and even better, they’re one of the most inexpensive forms of fat-burning, health-boosting nutrition around. Even organic, free range eggs come in at less than 50 cents for 10 grams of protein and more vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants than you can count.
Consuming whole eggs can mean up to a 40% increase in protein synthesis when compared to egg whites only. This can have an impact on your workouts and recovery. This is especially vital to the development and growth of babies/kids.
Go for local, farm-fresh eggs. If that’s not available, purchase “free-range” eggs.
- Dimarco DM, et al. “Intake of up to 3 Eggs per Day Is Associated with Changes in HDL Function and Increased Plasma Antioxidants in Healthy, Young Adults,” J Nutr. 2017 Mar;147(3):323-329.
- Nicholas R Fuller, et al. “Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study – randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase,” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 07 May, 2018.
- Vliet, Stephan Van, “Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men.” Am J Clin Nutr, October 4th, 2017.