Eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. This article will discuss the health benefits of eggs, the nutrients they contain and their importance to your body.
Later on, I’ll share a bunch of great low-carb egg-based recipes.
5 Health Benefits of Eggs
In truth, I could list about 50 health benefits of eggs here. But in the interest of keeping this a little shorter in size, here are the top 5.
Health Benefit #1 – Eggs Are Extremely Nutrient-Dense
One of the biggest problems with the modern diet is that far too many people count calories.
Calories can either be healthy or unhealthy depending on the food. So, counting total calories is meaningless as a determinant of how healthy a diet is.
In reality, we should be focusing on the nutrients we consume. Fortunately, if we count the nutrients in eggs, we see some impressive results.
In fact, one egg provides all the nutrients to support new life for a chick. Eggs are an especially good source of choline, selenium, vitamin D and riboflavin.
All of these nutrients play a significant role in the health of our body.
- Choline: vital for liver health and essential for our muscular and nervous systems (2).
- Selenium: has an antioxidant role in the body and protects against free radical damage, involved in DNA production and thyroid function (3, 4).
- Vitamin D: one of the most critical nutrients for overall health. Essential for an optimal skeletal system, and helps regulate inflammation and protect DNA (5, 6, 7).
- Riboflavin: otherwise known as vitamin B2, Riboflavin is necessary for energy production, metabolism, and protecting the body against free radicals (8, 9, 10).
Key Point: Eggs are virtually unmatched when it comes to nutrient density. While some foods provide a large amount of a nutrient, eggs provide a moderate amount of almost everything.
Health Benefit #2 – Eggs Help Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Another of the health benefits of eggs is that they can help protect against heart disease. In contrast to what you may have heard, this might surprise you.
The way they do this is through lowering several cardiovascular risk factors.
- Eggs contain several heart-protective nutrients, especially vitamin D and the various B vitamins (11, 12, 13, 14).
- Eggs help raise high-density lipoprotein levels (HDL) and in many cases decrease triglyceride levels (15, 16).
Additionally, the modern diet is so low in many nutrients due to widespread deficiencies. As eggs are one of the most nutritious foods we have, a few eggs go a long way to meeting nutrient requirements.
Key Point: Contrary to what you may have heard, eggs have a range of beneficial effects on heart disease risk factors. Consumption of eggs relates to an overall healthier cholesterol profile.
Health Benefit #3 – Eggs Are a Dietary Source of Choline
If you haven’t heard of choline before, then you need to look into it. Choline is a relatively unknown essential nutrient that’s desperately lacking in our modern diet.
In truth, the choline content is one of the most important health benefits of eggs. As an example, not getting enough choline is associated with:
- Fatty liver disease – studies show that choline deficiency plays a prominent role in the development of fatty liver disease (19).
- Increased DNA damage – as choline levels lower, DNA damage appears to increase (20)
- Diabetes – diets low in choline seem to promote weight gain and type 2 diabetes (21).
Why Are We Deficient in Choline?
Specifically, we are deficient in choline because we developed a fear of fat and cholesterol. Regarding choline, the only two dietary sources of any real note are liver and egg yolks.
As a result of dietary guidelines to limit fat and cholesterol, many people started avoiding liver and only eating egg whites. This trend had a disastrous effect on our health as a society.
Instead of eating nutrient-rich foods, the average person instead turned to low-fat refined foods.
Basically, to consume enough choline to have adequate amounts available, it’s essential to eat eggs and/or liver.
As many people find it difficult to eat liver, here are some tips to make it easier.
Key Point: Eggs are one of the only dietary sources of choline. Deficiency of this important nutrient can cause a wide range of health problems including diabetes and even DNA damage.
Health Benefit #4 – Eggs Are Beneficial For Eyesight
Another health benefit of eggs is that they are great for eyesight. And if you’re thinking about vitamin A, then there’s far more to it than that.
But now that I’ve mentioned it – let’s start with vitamin A. Eggs provide a great active source of this nutrient in retinol form.
There are two types of vitamin A:
- Retinol – this is a bio-available form of vitamin A that can be used directly by your body. We can find it in animal foods; egg yolks, liver and dairy products. Retinol is the best form of vitamin A because no conversion is needed.
- Provitamin A carotenoids – plant foods contain carotenoids, and the most famous of these is beta-carotene. Provitamin A cannot be used directly by the body and must first metabolize into retinal.
Therefore, one of the biggest health benefits of consuming eggs is that they supply pre-formed vitamin A.
Additionally, eggs also contain a variety of health-promoting antioxidants that help improve eyesight.
Two of these include lutein and zeaxanthin:
- Lutein helps protect against macular degeneration and cataracts. Unfortunately, macular degeneration is a growing problem in the western world and ultimately leads to blindness (22).
- Higher plasma concentrations of zeaxanthin also protect against macular degeneration, while lower levels increase risk factors (23, 24).
Key Point: Eggs contain a wide range of beneficial compounds for eyesight. This helps protect against macular degeneration.
Health Benefit #5 – Eggs Are a Good Source of Vitamin D
In modern times, vitamin D deficiency is rampant, and it’s having a disastrous effect on our health.
As you may have heard, sunlight is easily the best way to get vitamin D. This is down to the relative ease and also the fact that sunlight provides many additional health benefits.
However, most people in the world cannot get adequate vitamin D from the sun in long, dark winters. As a result, good food sources of vitamin D are essential for health.
Another of the health benefits of eggs is that they supply a decent amount of vitamin D. One large egg provides around 11% of the recommended intake (30).
In other words, a 4-egg omelet would provide almost 50% of the recommended figure.
Fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel are probably the best sources of vitamin D, but every little helps.
Key Point: Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D.
Nutrients in an Egg
When it comes to nutrition, eggs are loaded with nutrients. As the title of this article says, they truly are nature’s multivitamin.
But there are not many calories in eggs; a large egg contains only 77 calories.
Here are the vitamins and minerals supplied in one large egg.
Firstly, here are the macronutrients in one large egg:
- Protein – 6.29g
- Fat – 5.3g
- Carbohydrate – 0.56g
Here are the major vitamins in one large egg:
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – 41% RDA
- Vitamin B12 – 25% RDA
- Pantothenic Acid – 19% RDA
- Vitamin A – 16%
- Folate – 15%
- Vitamin B6 – 8%
- Vitamin E – 7%
- Thiamin – 6%
Here are the major minerals in one large egg:
- Selenium – 60% RDA
- Phosphorus – 23% RDA
- Zinc – 10% RDA
- Iron – 9%
- Calcium – 7%
- Potassium – 5%
As you can see, eggs are incredibly nutritious. And if you have three or four for breakfast, then you can triple or quadruple those nutrient numbers.
Key Point: Eggs are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They are one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the human diet.
The Best Type of Eggs
Most eggs look similar, but they can be very different in regard to nutritional value. To get the full health benefits of eggs, we need to consider the type of egg we eat.
The lifestyle of the hen that laid the egg is a key determinant of the nutrients present. For example, eggs from pasture-raised chickens have an overall healthier nutrient profile.
In one study, researchers compared the ratio of vitamin A, E, as well as fatty acids in pasture-raised hens compared to caged hens.
The pasture-raised hens were free to forage in grasslands for their own food. On the other hand, the caged hens ate standard commercial feed.
These were the results:
- Compared to the eggs from caged hens, pasture-raised hen eggs had double the amount of vitamin E.
- The concentration of vitamin A was 38% higher in the in the pastured hen’s eggs.
- Eggs from pastured-raised hens had 2.5x the amount of total omega-3 fatty acids.
- Pasture-laid eggs had less than half the ratio of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids (34).
It’s clear to see that the health benefits of eggs from pasture-raised hens are much greater. But health shouldn’t be the only consideration.
After all, an animal is a living creature with thoughts and feelings. Do you want to eat eggs from a hen who lived a life stuck in a cage? I know I don’t.
Key Point: Choosing eggs from pasture-raised hens is a much healthier option: both for you and the animal.
Are Eggs High in Cholesterol?
First of all, the answer is yes – eggs are very high in dietary cholesterol. But it’s important to realize that dietary cholesterol is not harmful.
In fact, eating dietary cholesterol from eggs appears to be good for you. In a recent study, 28 male participants ate eggs three times per day over 12 weeks.
All in all, the results were very promising. High-density lipoprotein (HDL) raised in each participant, while all metabolic syndrome risk factors decreased (36).
Interestingly, there is also an earlier study back from 1991, but this one is unique and worth mentioning. As part of this study, researchers examined an 88-year-old man who eats 25 eggs per day.
To summarize the results, he had normal cholesterol readings and was virtually free of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque) (37).
I’m not saying to eat 25-egg omelets, but three or four eggs per day are perfectly fine.
To emphasize: don’t throw away the yolk because that’s where most of the nutrients are.
Key Point: Don’t fear dietary cholesterol – the vast majority of studies show that is has very little impact on cholesterol levels. Also, you’ll be missing out on the health benefits of eggs if you only eat the whites. The yolk is the most nutritious part.
10 Great Tasting Low-Carb Egg Recipes
If you’re anything like me, then you probably get comfortable in your ways and end up making eggs in the same way.
So, here are some of the best egg-based recipes I found from around the Internet. All of the recipes are low-carb and paleo (if you eat dairy) friendly.
- 1. Crustless Quiche Lorraine – A tasty quiche made from bacon, eggs, cream and swiss cheese. For the recipe: Lemon Tree Dwelling.
- 2. Low Carb Breakfast Pizza – made with eggs, sausage, cream, cheese and vegetables. For the recipe: My Life Cookbook.
- 3. Cheddar Bay Egg Nests – a unique, delicious looking combination of eggs, cheese, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. For the recipe: Mother Thyme.
- 4. Low Carb Italian Eggs in Purgatory – a very healthy mix of eggs, tomato puree and a range of veg. For the recipe: Beauty and the Foodie.
- 5. Crustless Low Carb Pumpkin Pie – a sweet treat that contains real pumpkin. For the recipe: Living With Beth.
- 6. Low Carb Sausage and Egg Breakfast Casserole – a delicious looking recipe full of eggs, pork, seasonings, and cheese. For the recipe: What’s That Smell?
- 7. Low Carb Crab Cakes With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce – the description’s in the name! For the recipe: I Breathe I’m Hungry.
- 8. Crustless Quiche With Spinach and Bacon – another great looking quiche, with eggs, bacon, gruyere cheese, and vegetables. For the recipe: Jo Lynne Shane.
- 9. Paleo Scotch Eggs – great tasting healthy version of a traditional classic. For the recipe: Ditch the Carbs.
- 10. Baked Eggs – a delicious sounding baked combination of beef, cheese, and eggs. For the recipe: Diet Doctor.
In short, the health benefits of eggs make them a necessity for your shopping list.
In addition to the amount of nutrients and health benefits they provide, eggs also taste amazing.
And there are many delicious ways to make them.