Power Food: Eggs

Health Food Phoenix

Once quarantined as the food you must avoid if you had heart issues, a new growing body of research touting their nutritional benefits have caused eggs to rise from their nutritional grave to take their rightful place as a true power food.

Cholesterol, Eggs, and Your Heart

Improving heart health has long been about lowering your cholesterol. It would seem to make complete sense that if you wanted to decrease the amount of cholesterol in your blood stream then you should decrease the amount of cholesterol you are eating.

Eggs pack a whooping 200mg of cholesterol per serving (essentially the limit of recommended intake on ‘heart healthy diets’) making eggs public enemy #1 when it comes to reducing dietary and thus blood cholesterol levels.

Here’s the good news…for most of us the amount of cholesterol that you eat doesn’t have that much of an effect on the levels of cholesterol in your blood. Research shows that only 30 percent of people experience significant increases in cholesterol levels after following a diet high in cholesterol. After looking at the dietary habits of 100,000 people, a group of researchers from Harvard University reported that daily egg consumption in healthy people did not lead to an increase in risk of coronary heart disease.

Gold Standard of Protein Quality

Once you can take your focus off the eggs and cholesterol debate, you are able to see that eggs are a nutritional powerhouse, especially when it comes to protein. Eggs have always been the gold standard of protein. When protein quality is measured, researchers compared the protein food that they are measuring to eggs.

One egg contains 6-7 grams of the best protein that you will find. Full of essential amino acids that are readily absorbed by your body.

Whole Egg vs. Egg White

The popularity of eating only egg whites came from the drive to eat less fat and cholesterol (as all the fat and cholesterol is in the egg yolk).

Eggs whites are great but they are nutritionally a one trick pony – protein. An egg white contains all protein ~3 grams; the rest of the nutrients, protein and fat are hiding in the golden center, aka: the yolk.

Egg yolks are much more than just protein. They contain key fat soluble vitamins A, D, and E, a muscle building nutrient. If you opt to buy eggs from chickens that were fed omega-3 rich feed, the health promoting omega-3 fats in the feed transfer to the egg, giving you as much as 150mg of the long chain omega-3 fat DHA.

Egg yolks also contain, leutin, and zeaxanthin. Choline is an essential nutrient for brain health, while leutine and zeaxanthin are two potent antioxidants that may help prevent age-related problems with vision.

When you think about antioxidants, eggs are probably not the first food to come to mind, but a study published in Food Chemistry found that the antioxidant capacity of eggs was equal to that of the poster child of good health: apples!

Whole Eggs and “Good Cholesterol”

Researchers at the University of Connecticut wanted to test the power of whole eggs vs cholesterol/fat free egg substitutes. They found that men who ate three large whole eggs per day increased their HDL or good cholesterol by 20 percent. There was also no impact on LDL or bad cholesterol. The people who ate the egg substitutes didn’t experience any change in either risk factor for heart disease.

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