Modestly petite and a bit unsuspecting in appearance, eggs are at the top on my list of “perfect” foods. They are jam-packed with an array of nutrients that support heart health, brain power and so much more!
In a mere 70 calories per large egg, you get 6-7 grams of one of the best proteins available, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and a host of vitamins and minerals (more than 30% of your vitamin K needs—crucial in bone health). And don’t even think about not eating the yolk, as 40% of the protein along with most of the vitamins and good-for-you nutrients are in this golden globe.
Eggs are also one of the very few food sources of the nutrient choline, which is involved in brain health and memory. Among other things, choline is converted into brain chemicals crucial for an array of operations and most folks (children and pregnant women in particular) may be falling short on getting enough as the body makes only a limited supply of choline.
The golden yolk also supplies lutein, an eye-saving plant pigment that helps prevent age-related loss of vision. As for cholesterol, sure eggs are loaded… all in the yolk by the way… but don’t worry. While each egg sports about 2/3 of the recommended cholesterol budget for the day, studies show that eating eggs daily won’t kick up circulating levels of cholesterol and according to research, eating eggs does not raise heart disease risk. As a result, the US Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 has “lifted” the limit on eggs for a healthy diet—go ahead and have more than one a day!
Selecting omega-3 enhanced eggs, especially if you rarely eat fish as a source of these essential fats, makes good nutrition sense. Most omega-3 chicken eggs supply anywhere from half to almost the same amount of omega-3’s as a serving of salmon. The amount and type of omega-3 fat in these eggs, however, depends upon what the hens are fed.
Selecting organic or free-range organic eggs versus conventionally cage-raised eggs may provide some slight nutritional advantages. Organic eggs, for example, may supply more of an essential fat called ALA (a type of omega-3 fat), potentially good news for heart and immune system health. Eggs from free-range hens may have greater amounts of lutein and other nutrients since the hens are roaming and gathering an array of nutrients. You will notice that egg yolks from organically raised and free-range hens look deep yellow-orange, a sign of good lutein content. But alas, eggshell color (brown versus white) imparts no nutritional benefits.