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Are eggs bad for you?

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Jump to: Are eggs good for you? | Eggs are a rich source of protein | Eggs are very nutrient-dense | Eggs can help with weight loss | Take home message

Eggs haven’t always been viewed as a healthy food. The fear that the dietary cholesterol in eggs would raise your blood cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease has meant they’ve had a bit of a bad reputation.

Click here to find out more about the connection between cholesterol and heart disease.

Are eggs good for you? Absolutely.

We now know that the cholesterol within eggs has very little effect on the body’s blood cholesterol levels. They’re also a rich source of vitamin A, iodine, and selenium and their high protein and fat content will help you feel fuller and more satisfied until your next meal, which can support weight loss.

This doesn’t mean you should eat 10 eggs a day; any food in excess will mean that other mutually beneficial foods will be left out; potentially increasing your risk of certain deficiencies in other essential nutrients and vitamins.

However, as part of a balanced diet based on whole foods and minimises the consumption of ultra-processed foods, eggs are an excellent addition to any diet to support good health.

If you follow a vegan diet – you’d need to source protein, fat, and other essential nutrients like vitamin A from other sources.

Click here to find some great recipes with eggs on the Second Nature website.

At Second Nature, we don’t ban or label foods as good or bad. We believe all foods can be included as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle, and eggs are no exception.

If you’d like to join people like Jo who’ve found food freedom and achieved their health goals without counting points or syns, click here to take our healthy quiz.

Otherwise, keep reading as we look at three reasons eggs are good for you and should be included in a balanced diet.

1) Eggs are a rich source of protein

Protein is an essential nutrient responsible for the growth and development of our body’s cells and tissues. Various proteins are also essential for other bodily functions, such as cellular messaging and our immune function.

It’s estimated that we should be consuming around 1.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to maximise the body’s requirements for growth, maintenance, and other essential functions. For an individual weighing 80kg, this would equate to around 96kg per day – or 32g in each meal.

With 12.4g of protein per 100g, eggs are a rich source of protein. Four medium eggs would provide you with around 24g of protein, or 25% of your daily protein requirements, if you weighed 80kg.

When we’re looking to maximise protein intake, it’s not only about the total amount but also the balance of different amino acids (AAs). Each protein will be a combination of many different AAs, and this balance will determine how well it’s digested and absorbed by the body’s cells.

There are also nine essential amino acids the body can’t produce, which we must obtain from the diet.

Eggs have been rated as a high-quality protein source using various assessment methods for digestibility and absorption. They provide your body with all the essential amino acids and are very effective at stimulating the growth and maintenance of the body’s cells.

Key points:

  • Protein is an essential nutrient, and it’s estimated we should be consuming around 1.2g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.
  • Eggs are a rich source of protein, with 12.4g of protein per 100g.
  • Eggs are also rated as a high-quality protein source as they contain all the essential amino acids and are digested very well.

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2) Eggs are very nutrient-dense

Eggs are incredibly nutrient-dense. They’re a source of magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc, all of which are essential for our health. However, we’ll focus on three vitamins and minerals particularly rich in eggs: vitamin A, iodine, and selenium,

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, or retinol, is an essential fat-soluble vitamin required for many essential bodily functions, including vision, immune function, and maintaining surface tissues such as the skin.

Whilst rare in western countries, deficiency in vitamin A deficiency can lead to an increased risk of infection and contribute to the development of blindness.

Eggs contain around 180micrograms of vitamin A per 100g (two medium eggs), providing 25% of your minimum daily requirements for a man and 30% for a woman. Retinol, the form of vitamin A found in eggs, is the active form and is more readily digested and utilised by the body for its essential functions.

Carotenoids, the form of vitamin A found in fruits and vegetables, is known as a ‘pre-vitamin’ and needs to be converted to retinol in the liver before the body can use them. However, conversion rates are only between 10-20%.

Iodine

Iodine is a trace element as we only need it in very small amounts. It’s an essential component of our thyroid hormone testosterone (which comes in two forms, T3 and T4). Testosterone is essential in managing our metabolism and ensuring adequate protein utilisation in cells and tissues.

Iodine deficiency, again rare in western cultures (particularly after the introduction of iodised salt), can lead to a condition known as goitre, which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland and can negatively affect mental function; it also increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Eggs contain around 49micrograms of iodine per 100g (two medium eggs), providing nearly 33% of your minimum daily requirement for iodine.

Selenium

Selenium is an essential trace element required for reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, and immune function. Selenium deficiency can lead to infertility in males, iodine deficiency, and an increased risk of developing Keshan disease (a chronic heart condition).

Eggs contain 31micrograms of selenium per 100g (two medium eggs), providing 56% of your minimum daily requirement for selenium.

Key points:

  • Eggs are incredibly nutrient-dense and are rich in many essential vitamins that help the body function properly.
  • In particular, eggs are a very rich source of vitamin A, iodine, and selenium which all have essential bodily functions.

3) Eggs can help with weight loss

As we’ve previously discussed, diets rich in protein and higher in fat from whole foods are more effective at supporting weight loss in the long term compared to low-fat diets. Considering eggs are a rich source of fat and protein, they can be a valuable addition to your diet if you want to lose weight; research appears to support this.

A study investigated the impact of two diets on weight loss. The first group was instructed to eat eggs for breakfast, while the second group was instructed to eat bagels. The diets were designed to be matched for total energy intake, with the only difference being the breakfasts.

After 8 weeks, the egg group lost an average of 2.63kg compared to 1.59kg in the bagel group. The egg group also achieved a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference and a 16% greater reduction in total body fat.

Similarly, diets higher in eggs and total protein may help to maintain lean mass while supporting weight loss compared to diets lower in protein. Lean mass comprises our muscles, bones, and vital organs – and reductions in lean mass are typically not a good thing.

A study compared a high protein, high egg diet to a lower protein diet without eggs on weight loss and lean mass retention. Both groups lost the same amount of total weight, averaging 3.3kg. However, only the egg group maintained their lean mass after 12 weeks.

This suggests that eggs can be useful to support weight loss and to help maintain lean mass during a weight loss journey to ensure that the majority of the weight being lost is excess body fat.

Key points:

  • Eggs are rich in protein and fat, and diets rich in protein and fats from whole foods have been shown to support weight loss.
  • Clinical trials have shown that eggs can support weight loss to a greater extent than lower protein diets that don’t contain eggs.
  • Due to their protein content, eggs can also support lean mass retention, which is often reduced during weight loss.

Take home message

Eggs are a perfect example of how we can be too black and white and oversimplistic in our approach to food and nutrition. It was previously believed that cholesterol caused heart disease, and because eggs contain dietary cholesterol, they must also cause heart disease.

This is despite no evidence showing eggs 1) raised blood cholesterol levels and 2) increased your risk of heart disease. A statement that remains true to this day.

The truth is that eggs are rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients the body needs to function. Alongside this, clinical trials have consistently shown that eggs can be included as part of a healthy balanced diet to promote good health.

So whether you like them fried, scrambled, over-easy, or in an omelette – eggs should be enjoyed and savoured, for there’s more than meets the eye in the humble egg.

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