Low in calories and packed with nutrients,
they should be part of a balanced diet
As the latest superfood hits the headlines
(when was the last time you ate broccoli sprouts?),
it’s easy to forget the humble egg.
Packed with nutrients, relatively low in calories and easy to obtain,
here are some reasons why eggs should be part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Eggs are a rich source of high quality protein. A medium sized egg has more than 6g of protein,
and contains all eight of the essential amino acids which can only be obtained from your diet.
Virtually free of carbohydrates, the high protein content of eggs may also help with satiety, i.e.
they help you feel full for longer than other foods.
At around 80 calories per medium sized egg, they are also low in calories.
Eggs are often thought of being high in fat. But a medium sized egg contains around 6g of fat,
and only 1.7g of this is saturated fat, the type associated with high cholesterol levels,
heart disease and stroke. Most of the fats in eggs are the healthier monosaturated or polysaturated kinds.
When it comes to cholesterol, eggs get something of a bad press.
High blood cholesterol levels are a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke,
and egg yolks are rich in cholesterol.
However, it’s now known that saturated fats play a major role in blood cholesterol levels,
whereas cholesterol-containing foods such as eggs and prawns have little overall effect.
If you want to lower your cholesterol levels, especially bad LDL-cholesterol,
cut back on foods containing saturated fats such as fatty meats, sausages, pastries, cakes,
butter and lard.
Many of us are deficient in this vital vitamin.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, important for healthy bones and teeth.
Our bodies produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight,
but eggs are one of the few foods which are also rich in this vitamin.
Adults deficient in vitamin D are at greater risk of osteoporosis.
Other studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to serious health problems
including cancer, heart disease and multiple sclerosis.
Eggs are a great source of vitamin B12, needed for making red blood cells,
maintaining the nervous system and for general growth.
Too little vitamin B12 can lead to anaemia.
Eggs are also a good source of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), which helps the body
absorb iron and is important for healthy skin, nails and hair.
Eggs are a brain food, as they are one of the richest sources of choline,
needed for healthy brain development and function.
The yolk from a medium sized egg contains around 300mg of choline.
Most of the choline we need comes from our diet.
It is used by the body to form the neurotransmitter acetylcholine,
involved in memory function.
Low levels of choline can lead to a deficiency in folic acid,
also important for a healthy brain.
Choline plays an important role in the brain development of the unbo
rn child and also helps prevent birth defects.
Egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids which may help lower
the risk of macular degeneration, the most common cause of sight loss in the UK.
Research also suggests that the lutein from eggs is more readily taken up by the
body than from other types of food.