At this time of the year many like to indulge in the odd chocolate Easter Egg and why not! If you have been careful with your diet for much of the year so far, having a bit of a treat will actually be good for you. As I point out in my article Cheating does (sometimes) prosper, having the occasional treat not only helps with your motivation, but can also help to keep the metabolism high. So go for it, I say.
In this article, however, I want to look at the health benefits of the other type of egg; the chicken variety.
Good source of Protein
Eggs are a low-carb, low-calorie source of Protein, which is essential for muscle gain or retention, particular important for older active people. A typical egg provides 6-8 grams (1/4 oz) of high quality protein with a rich supply of vitamins and minerals. With only 70 calories, eggs are also an important part of any low-calorie diet.
Although Egg Protein is absorbed relatively slowly, it rates high on the bioavailability index, which is a measure of how efficiently your body uses it in the formation of new tissue. Hence, eggs are considered a high-quality form of protein, particularly to vegetarians.
Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals
Eggs are also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals. They contain high levels selenium which helps to keep your thyroid healthy and prevents muscle fatigue. They contain vitamins B2 and B12 to assist nerve and brain function, which helps with concentration and memory. Antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and lutein are also found in eggs, which will help keep your vision clear.
What about Cholesterol?
Nevertheless, eggs have traditionally had a bad rap thanks to research from the early 70s and a presumed link with dietary and blood Cholesterol – the main contributor to Heart Disease. Since a typical egg contains high-levels of Dietary Cholesterol (around 300mg), it was concluded that eggs should be avoided; indeed it was recommended that healthy adults should not consume more than 2-4 eggs a week.
More current research however has shown that for most healthy people, the dietary cholesterol in eggs has a smaller effect on harmful cholesterol (LDL) in the blood when compared to other good sources of protein such dairy or fatty meats – see Is Fat a Friend or Foe).
Even though eggs continue to cause much debate, the results seem causal, probably due to how the eggs are prepared (e.g. Fried, Scrambled) and what they are eaten with. Regardless of which study you follow, the fact remains eggs can be eaten in relatively high quantities without concern.
Eggs are a cheap high-quality source of protein, essential for any serious gym-goer or indeed anyone trying to stay healthy as they get older. Provided you prepare them in a smart way, such as poached or boiled, they are a healthier choice to dairy or red meats, due to their low saturated fat and low-calorie content.
Although lets be honest, they are not as tasty as Chocolate Eggs, so I will be enjoying mine for today.