The humble egg has caused controversy for a while about whether or not it is healthy. On this very blog we have discussed the potential health benefits of eggs as part of the keto diet, but truthfully… are eggs healthy?
What’s in an egg?
Eggs are packed with nutrients – proteins, fats, and vitamins – that could have beneficial effects on the body. The white of the egg (the albumen) is filled with protein and although it contains avidin – a protein that can prevent the absorption of egg white nutrients – it is destroyed through heating. Therefore, once an egg has been pasteurised or cooked, most of the nutrients within the albumen remain useful.
On the other hand, the egg yolk contains plenty of fats – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats – which are all essential parts of the diet. In order to absorb vitamins A, D, and E, the body needs fats. Furthermore, the right kinds of fat can help prevent the build up of ‘bad’ cholesterol in the bloodstream. Therefore, try not to be scared off by the fat content of an egg – it always comes down to consuming a sensible amount.
Egg yolks also contain choline, a compound that can boost mental cognition as well as prevent the build up of fat in the liver. So, overall, eggs seem to have a significant list of beneficial ingredients, but what are their effects?
Cholesterol is always a worry for people in terms of heart health. This is where the concern for eating fats comes from – consuming too much fat will increase the cholesterol in the bloodstream, which will then begin to block up veins and arteries. However, there are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ types of cholesterol – low-density lipoproteins (LDL – the ‘bad’ cholesterol) and high-density lipoprotein (HDL – the ‘good’ cholesterol).
According to the NHS [https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-cholesterol/cholesterol-levels/], HDL, the ‘good’ cholesterol, makes you less likely to have heart problems or a stroke, whereas LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol, is more likely to give you heart problems or a stroke. In order to lower your cholesterol to a healthy level, it is advised that you consume fewer saturated fats, and more unsaturated fats. Although eggs contain both of these, there are more unsaturated fats within the yolk (62% unsaturated fats, both mono- and poly-unsaturated) than saturated fats (38%).
However, this can change depending on how you cook your eggs – frying an egg can increase the fat content by 50%, so having poached, boiled, or scrambled (with low fat milk rather than cream) eggs is a better option.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and Eggs
Through various studies the consumption of eggs has also been measured against the risk of getting cardiovascular disease, with little evidence to suggest that it has a major effect other than for some diabetics.
Further studies suggest that, whether the study subjects were healthy or had medical conditions (diabetes or hyperlipidemia), egg consumption didn’t lead to an increase in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, or change insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels.
Eggs and Weight Loss
Eggs are often part of diets promoting weight loss, but these are often to do with creating a calorie deficit within the body. A study of healthy college students – half eating 2 eggs 5 times weekly, and half not eating eggs at all – showed that weight gain was more or less equal across the board.
Similarly, a crossover study between 29 type 2 diabetics, where some consumed 1 egg with vegetables and bread, and others consumed half a cup of oatmeal and milk, also showed limited differences in its findings.
There was no difference in plasma glucose, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, inflammation markers, or plasma lipids found between the egg and oatmeal groups. In addition to that, no difference in body weight, body fat, or BMI was found either. As a result, it is fair to assume that eggs don’t have an adverse effect on weight on their own – a healthy lifestyle with a good diet and plenty of exercise is your best bet.
Are Eggs Healthy?
To paraphrase Shakespeare, an egg by any other name would be as nutritious. The way that they are produced, treated, and sold make sure that their nutritional value is upheld, Their vast array of proteins, fats, and vitamins contribute to a healthy diet – your best bet at remaining healthy – but do not have any adverse negative effects individually when eaten in moderation.
Sometimes complications can arise as a result of further medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, but it is often believed that unless your doctor requests that you stop, eating eggs is perfectly healthy for you.
Eggs are nutrient-rich, containing proteins, fats, and vitamins.
When eaten in moderation, eggs have no adverse negative effects despite their fat content.
Consuming eggs is not known to increase a risk of CVD or heart disease, or negatively affect people with type 2 diabetes.