Eggs: Excellent Sources of Antioxidants and Protein

By February 27, 2014Dairy

Various EggsThe second half of the twentieth century was not kind to eggs. The 1950s in particular were a time when eggs were demonized due to their high fat content, which pioneering nutritionists – notably Ancel Keys, developer of the notorious “lipid hypothesis” – believed would raise cholesterol and contribute towards coronary heart disease. Today, however, we understand that fatty whole foods like eggs are an essential component of a healthy diet, particularly when they come from sustainable, organic sources. In fact, eggs have been a staple breakfast for people in many cultures for centuries. These people understood that if an egg contained enough nutrients to nourish an entire chick, then those same nutrients could nourish us to a similar extent – and studies now confirm that this is true.

List of Health Benefits

Improve eye health – According to the Iowa Egg Council, egg yolks contain two important carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, which help prevent age-related blindness and reduce the risk of developing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. In essence, these carotenoids – which give egg yolks their distinctive yellow-orange color – act as antioxidants in the eye, protecting it from free radicals that can damage different parts of the retina. Moreover, these carotenoids are high-quality. According to a study published in the December 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the lutein and zeaxanthin found in eggs are easier for our bodies to utilize than those found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach.

Rich in high-quality protein – There’s a good reason why so many bodybuilders eat eggs regularly: One cooked egg contains approximately 6 grams of protein. This protein, which is mostly contained in the egg white, is a “complete” protein and has a score of 100 on the biological value index, meaning it contains all eight essential amino acids. Moreover, egg protein boasts a perfect score of 1.0 on the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Index, which measures a protein’s completeness. For this reason, eggs are a perfect protein source for growing children and adults alike.

Note: Though eggs are not explicitly linked to weight loss, their high protein content makes us feel full for longer, discouraging overeating. This is one of the reasons why eggs have traditionally been viewed as a breakfast food: They satiated and energized workers (especially agricultural workers like farmers) for hours after consumption.

Excellent source of choline – Eggs are one of the best dietary source of choline, a B vitamin that is a constituent of lecithin. Choline is essential for the functioning of all cells in the body, including transporting nutrients to cells associated with memory. Therefore, as research at Tufts University in Massachusetts confirms, choline-rich foods like eggs directly improve brain function. Additionally, research published in The FASEB Journal found that women with the highest level of choline intake were 24 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those with the lowest level of choline intake.

Other B vitamins contained in eggs include thiamin, riboflavin, B6, B12, folate, and pantothenic acid. All of these vitamins work together to promote a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 is found exclusively in animal products, making eggs especially valuable for vegetarians.

Rich in trace minerals – According to Self‘s “NutritionData,” one large hard-boiled egg contains between 1 and 9 percent of our recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and manganese. Significantly, one egg also contains 15.4 micrograms of selenium, which is 22 percent of our RDI. An important antioxidant, selenium can help boost the immune system, prevent degenerative diseases like cancer, and stabilize cholesterol levels.