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Are Eggs Good for You, or Are They Bad for You?

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David is an army-trained biomedical scientific officer, writer, and lifelong health and fitness enthusiast.

Are Eggs Good or Bad?

For decades eggs have had a bad reputation as an unhealthy food – full of saturated fat and cholesterol, and supposedly contributing to heart disease. Yet many people swear by them, saying they are one of the best foods you can eat. So what’s the truth about eggs? Are eggs good for you or are they bad for you?

The Cholesterol Myth

It’s true that eggs are quite high in cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol actually has very little impact on blood cholesterol levels. And this is particularly true of eggs, as they contain a phosholipid called lecithin which reduces the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines.

But cholesterol is vital to human life anyway. It is an essential structural component of every cell of our bodies, and is a precursor to all the steroid hormones as well.

Eggs also contain saturated fat. But it’s only a relatively small amount – less than 2g per large egg. Besides which, a moderate amount of saturated fat in the diet is beneficial. It is a healthy fuel source and has many other functions in the body too.

And as for contributing to heart disease; studies have shown absolutely no link between egg consumption and heart disease. So eggs have got a bad reputation for no reason at all.

A Nutritional Powerhouse

Eggs are in fact one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat. A large egg contains 6g of the highest quality protein, with all 8 essential amino acids. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fats, vitamins A, D, E and K, several of the B vitamins, a whole range of minerals, trace elements, and valuable antioxidants too. Almost half of the protein and virtually all of the other nutrients are contained in the yolk of the egg – so this is by far the most nutritious part.

The main antioxidants in eggs are the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds have numerous health benefits, but are particularly good for eye health.

Eggs are also low in calories, contain virtually zero carbohydrates, and they have a high Satiety Index score, which means they keep you feeling full for a long time. Because of this they are an ideal food for weight loss.

Some interesting facts about the health benefits of eggs.

Egg Quality

Not all eggs are the same however. Caged hens will lay inferior eggs to free range hens, as their diet and living conditions are not nearly as good.

You can tell a good quality egg, as it will have a deep yellow yolk and a hard shell. Pale yolks and fragile shells indicate a much lower nutritional value.

So always choose good quality free range or organic eggs to get the most benefit.

Raw or Cooked?

Eggs are a good healthy food when eaten either raw or cooked, but each has its own particular advantages and disadvantages. The protein is more easily digested and absorbed when the egg is cooked (around 95% is absorbed from a cooked egg, as opposed to about 55% from a raw egg). And this is the case with several other nutrients too.

Also raw eggs contain a compound called avidin, which prevents the absorption of biotin – a B vitamin. But avidin is inactivated when the egg is cooked.

However, raw eggs will contain active enzymes and you will get better bioavailability of some of the other nutrients too.

Also, it’s not really accurate to say that raw eggs are unsafe to eat, as the concern over Salmonella in eggs is greatly exaggerated. Less than 1 in 10,000 eggs are contaminated with Salmonella, and this figure is much lower still for free range eggs.

On balance, however, eggs will provide the most benefit when lightly cooked (soft boiled or poached is best), so that the white becomes solid, but the yolk is still fully runny.

One final point that should be noted is that some people are allergic to eggs. But this is mostly children, and they usually grow out of it by the age of 6. Only 0.2% of adults are allergic to eggs, but if you are allergic to them you will obviously want to avoid eating eggs.

For everyone else though, the answer to the question “are eggs good for you?” is a definite yes. They really are one of the best foods you could eat – high in protein, packed with nutrients, low in calories and very filling. And there’s no limit on the amount you can eat either. So, if you’ve hesitated to eat eggs in the past, you really don’t need to worry about it any more.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Comments

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

Thanks Alphadogg, glad you liked it. I eat eggs most days too :)

Kevin W from Texas on March 23, 2014:

Great hub dwelburn, as eggs are one of the best sources of quality protein. I am unaware where the false knowledge of them being bad for you came from, I pretty much eat them on a daily basis. Thumbs up on your hub.

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

Yes you are right Radcliff. It is basic logic when you think about it isn't it?

Liz Davis from Hudson, FL on March 23, 2014:

Right on. Thanks for helping disprove the health myths that are so popular today. How did they ever get us to believe a food that contains all of the nutrients necessary to create a new life is actually bad for us? We've lost our logic skills along the way.

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

Thank you Sujaya.

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

No need to keep them down to 3 per week Thief. You can have as many as you want. It's wise to have one egg free day per week though in order to prevent possible allergy development.

sujaya venkatesh on March 23, 2014:

nice information

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on March 23, 2014:

Eggs are great, but I do try to keep my doses down to 3 or less per week. Interesting hub.

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

Glad you found this useful Rebecca. Yes, you will find if you buy the very cheap eggs they have very pale yolks and fragile shells.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 23, 2014:

Thanks for this very welcomed information! I never knew about judging the quality of the eggs by yolk shade and thickness of shell. I will remember that. Thanks again, and shared.

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on March 23, 2014:

Thank you Shyron. Yes poached or soft boiled are the best ways to eat them. I often have omelettes as well though :) I do like eggs.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 23, 2014:

I don't like eggs but do eat them, usually poached or boiled, only because I know that they are good for me.

This is an interesting hub, and I voted that way and shared.

Shyron

David (author) from Birmingham, UK on June 09, 2013:

Yes; I agree. Eggs make a great meal.

Michelle Dee from Charlotte, NC on June 09, 2013:

I love eggs, especially over easy with runny yoke. They make a great meal even for dinner.

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