“Are eggs healthy?” has to be one of the most popular topics of the last 20-30 years. It was once thought that all fat sources were going to clog your arteries and give you a heart attack, but we now know that’s not true. After this came the many years of egg-bashing with this much-loved breakfast staple getting trodden into the dirt by various websites, magazines, and books. We now seemed to have transitioned into a time where eggs are almost seen as the holy grail of the nutrition world; giving you everything you need to build muscle and lose fat inside one fragile shell.
Now, it’s important to state firstly that no one food is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for you, and understanding this is the key to success with your diet. Every food has its advantages and disadvantages; the devil just comes down to the dose. Even a donut could be considered ‘good’ because its carbohydrate content would support performance goals and including them in your diet from time to time might suppress your urge to binge. In reality, some foods might be better for you, but no one food is actually good or bad (unless it’s poisonous).
The Debatable Eggs
The real debate of whether you should or shouldn’t eat eggs comes from the egg yolk, not the white. Egg yolks contain a combination of fat and protein whereas the white is pure protein. This yolk is also where almost all of the nutrients are held as well as the controversial cholesterol levels. The yolk is around 46% monounsaturated fat – the fat that’s rich in Mediterranean diets and has been shown to be beneficial for your heart health. The rest is around 38% saturated fat and 16% polyunsaturated. Saturated fat isn’t necessarily bad for you, and is actually extremely beneficial for hormonal health, it just shouldn’t be eaten in ridiculous amounts. Thankfully, the majority of an egg is that heart-healthy monounsaturated.
Due to their high protein content, eggs can also help with weight loss. Studies have shown that when total calories and protein are matched, as long as you’re in a caloric deficit, it doesn’t matter too much the ratio of carbohydrates to fat that you eat. Protein supports lean tissue in the body, suppresses hunger, has a high thermogenic effect (around 25% of its calories are burned off through the digestive process), and it’s hard for the body to turn any excess protein into fat. So, when it comes to protein, it’s all winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Lastly, we need to touch on the cholesterol content. Studies have found that there’s no association between egg consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to when people eat 1-6 eggs per week. In various controlled trials, eating eggs hasn’t been found to be linked to an increase in risk for cardiovascular health, blood glucose, or insulin sensitivity.
The only issue that might arise is that eggs are a fat source and therefore, contain around 80 calories. If you then fry them, then this can bring the calories up to over 100. The best way to cook eggs is by boiling or poaching as frying or scrambling adds in extra calories which might hinder your weight loss goals.
That’s really all there is to it! Eggs aren’t the devil we once thought them to be, and eaten in moderation they can actually be extremely supportive of a healthy lifestyle.