Scrambled, poached or fried? Here are the benefits of eggs, explained by a dietician.
When it comes to public perception, eggs have received the full scope of treatment. In the later half of the 1900s, they had a pretty bad rep, which might mean you grew up ordering egg whites only or avoiding them altogether. Thankfully, a lot of the science behind eggs’ nutritional value has been demystified since – and coupled with a new-found love for brunch, eggs are back on the menu.
However, there’s still a load of scaremongering about eggs out there, from claims that they increase cholesterol to resulting in heart disease. The recent reporting of a new study published in PLOS (Public Library of Science) left people thinking that eating just half an egg a day could lead to early death - but experts have since debunked these findings.
“The conclusions of this study are overblown,” says Dr Ada Garcia, senior lecturer in public health nutrition at the University of Glasgow. “Blaming eggs alone for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease is a simplistic and reductionist approach to the concept of diet and disease prevention.”
Are eggs good or bad for cholesterol?
“Animals produce their own cholesterol, so any time we eat an animal product we will be consuming some cholestrol,” says Ariana Rodriguez, registered dietician and co-founder of Embody Health London. “But the beautiful thing about the human body is that we have a liver which can recalibrate and regulate our body as we digest any type of food.”
Despite what you might have heard, not all of the this cholesterol simply clogs up our bodies. “There is a purpose to cholesterol,” says Ariana, including synthesising hormones and supporting your metabolism, among other things.
Of course, variety is important. “We can’t just have eggs nor can we just have spinach. It’s always going to be about moderation,” reminds Ariana.
Are eggs a good source of protein?
Many people opt for a post-workout protein shake or think that lean meats, such as chicken breast or steak, are the best way to hit your protein goals. The reality is that eggs are one of the highest quality proteins that we can have - in fact, they’re seen as the gold standard.
“The scoring system that food researchers use is called a digestible indispensable amino acid score and eggs are used as the baseline which we compare all other protein sources to,” explains Ariana. That’s because they contain all 21 amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in well-balanced measure. As protein supports muscle recovery, there’s no better way to rebuild and repair than a post-workout scramble or poached egg on toast – no complaints here.
What are the health benefits of eating eggs?
As well as the macronutrients such as proteins and fats, it’s also important to look at micronutrient content of foods. The good news: eggs contain a lot of micronutrients, including the below.
Is it safe to eat eggs every day?
You probably know that a six egg omelette for every meal isn’t the answer. So how many should you really be eating, and are they safe to eat every day?
According to the NHS, there is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat. Some studies show that having two or three eggs a day can increase the ‘good’ type of cholesterol which is what we associate with improved heart health and lower risk of heart disease and stroke. And yes, that’s the whole egg, not just the white. “The egg yolk is minimised and thought to just be about fat - when it actually offers so much more than that,” says Ariana.
In fact, the yolk contains half of the protein and most of the other vitamins and minerals. “The vitamin A is what gives it that yellow, orangey or reddish colour, so the darker the yolk the more vitamin A you’re getting,” Ariana adds.
Take it from a registered dietician - if you’re eating a balanced diet, you’ve probably got nothing to worry about.
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Chloe Gray is the senior writer for stylist.co.uk's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).