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For centuries, eggs have played a major role in feeding families around the globe. The oval shaped food is an unbeatable package when it comes to versatility and top quality protein at a very affordable price. Since the domestication of the chicken and the continuous growth of commercial layer production, the consumption of eggs has continued to soar higher in most countries of the world. From the humble boiled egg to the master chef’s soufflé, the egg has a vital place as an ingredient in many recipes.
Not only do eggs taste good, they provide a lot of nutritional needs of the body. Despite the huge benefits that come with eating eggs, the consumption level in Nigeria is still very low at 65 eggs per head per annum compared to 191 in Brazil, 222 in United Kingdom, 281 in Netherlands and 292 in USA. The average consumption of eggs in Africa stands at 36 eggs per head per annum which is extremely low compared to the global average of 145 eggs per head per annum.
Eggs could be classified as a supper food based on how loaded they are with nutrients, some of which are rare in modern diet. Among the animal sources of protein such as meat, fish, milk, and eggs, eggs hold the highest potential in terms of availability, preparation time, and health benefits. Without a doubt, there is a multitude of benefits in eating eggs every day. Not only do eggs provide high quality protein, they also contain 13 vitamins, 11 minerals, all 9 essential amino acids, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as 2 Carotenoids.
BENEFITS OF EATING EGGS
- High Quality Protein
Proteins are building blocks of life. A single egg contains about 6.3 grams of high quality protein. The main function of protein in the body is to build, strengthen, and repair or replace tissues. Eggs provide the body with very high quality protein that contains all the 9 essential amino acids in the right amounts needed by the body for optimum growth and main balance. Amino acids are the building blocks of our body. Some other foods contain proportionately more protein than eggs but it’s the quality of protein in the eggs that really stands out. Protein molecules contribute to muscle growth and maintenance.
- Eggs are Rich in Nutrients
A single egg contains very high amount of vitamins and minerals that are very essential to the body. Just one boiled egg contains 40% of your daily vitamin D requirements, 25% of your daily folate requirements, 12% of your daily riboflavin requirements, and 20% of your daily selenium requirements. It also contains vitamins A, E, B5, B12, as well as iron, iodine, zinc, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus. These vitamins and minerals serve different functions in the body.
- Eggs are a Good Source of Omega-3 Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids
This is a family of essential fats that play an important role in the way cell membranes work. Oily fish is one of the best known sources and eggs contain similar types of Omega-3 fatty acids as those found in fish. This means eggs are particularly useful for those who cannot afford or detest fish.
- Eggs are Among the Best Dietary Sources of Choline
Choline is a water soluble essential nutrient that the body requires for cell membranes and for processing fat. Choline is essential for normal cell functioning and is particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain and spinal cord development in the foetus, cognitive development in infants, and may also help prevent cognitive decline in the elderly. A hard-boiled egg contains about 164 milligrams of choline which is about 30-36% of your daily requirements. Eggs are also known to improve birth outcomes and improve the composition of breast milk. It is advisable that children between the ages of 6-60 months are fed with eggs daily.
- Eggs Contain Antioxidants that are Beneficial to the Eyes
Eggs are rich in antioxidants; Lutein and Zeaxanthin, both of which are believed to play a protective role in reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including cataracts and macular degenerations which are the leading causes of blindness in the elderly. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition indicates that individuals who ate 1.3 yolks of eggs everyday for four and half weeks saw increased blood levels of Zeaxanthin by 114-142% and Lutein by 28-50%. Some studies have shown that antioxidants are better absorbed by the body from eggs than from plant sources.
- Eggs Help Boost Nutrient Intake for Healthy Aging
Increased nutrient requirements and waning appetites can increase the risk of deficiencies in fiber, calcium, vitamins A, E, C, B6, B12, folate, Iron, magnesium, and zinc. Older people who primarily stay indoors are also at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency from a lack of sun exposure. Containing 13 different vitamins and 11 minerals, eggs are an easy way to increase nutrients intake. They are also one of the few foods containing vitamin D and are economical, easy to prepare, and easy to eat.
- Eggs Help in Weight Loss
Eggs are packed full of high quality protein which makes them ideal as part of many different dietary patterns that can assist people to manage their weight. The high satiety levels of eggs lead to greater feelings of satisfaction, less hunger, and a lower desire to eat later in the day. Eggs are known to increase levels of a hormone that helps you feel satisfied after eating and decreases the rate at which food leaves the stomach. An International Journal of Obesity study on the link between consumption of eggs and weight loss produced remarkable results. Over an eight week period, people ate a breakfast of either two eggs or a bagel which contained the same amount of calories. The egg group lost 65% more body weight, 16% more body fat, experienced a 16% greater reduction in body mass index, and saw a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference. This has broken the long standing myth that eggs bring about increase in body weight.
- Eggs Increases “Good” Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a type of lipid- a waxy substance that forms part of the cell membranes. While cholesterol is essential to your body, having too much of it in the blood stream can increase your risk of heart disease. High level of cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits building up in the blood vessels which eventually make it difficult for blood to flow through the arteries. These deposits can break up and form clots that may cause a heart attack or stroke.
Eggs contain dietary cholesterol and this has led to many questions on the long term impact on the heart. The good news is that this myth surrounding the risk of cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and increased risk of prostate cancer associated with egg consumption by adults has been debunked long ago. The 212 milligrams of cholesterol contained in an egg is high density lipoprotein called “good” cholesterol that is not harmful to the body but instead work to change the Low density lipoprotein called “bad” cholesterol in the body which is harmful to a subtype that is not as strongly associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Current research has shown that eating eggs can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. Despite containing cholesterol, eggs contain density lipoprotein which is good cholesterol. The intake of HDL limits the production of LDL by the body which is recycled by the liver and consequently reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is also important to note that eggs contain folate and long chain omega-3 fatty acids that may be associated with protection from heart disease or its risk factors.
HOW THEN SHOULD ONE EAT EGGS?
Saturated fatty acids have a great impact on blood cholesterol levels and that means what you eat with your eggs is important. Eggs can be incorporated as an ingredient in many Nigerian dishes. It is recommended that eggs be eaten as part of a varied diet alongside foods that are good for the heart such as fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes. Instead of restricting egg intake, more important changes to the diet including increasing vegetable intake, eating whole foods, and reducing the amount of processed foods and saturated fats.
However, if you are on special diet like diabetic patients, we advise you consult your doctor before adjusting your menu.
- Blesso CN, et al. Dietary Cholesterol, Serum lipids, and Heart Disease: Are Eggs Working for or Against You? 2008
- Lora L. et al. Eggs in Early Complementary Feeding and Child Growth: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Pediatrics. 2017
- Gisella Mutungi et al. Dietary Cholesterol from Eggs Increases Plasma HDL Cholesterol in Overweight Men Consuming a Carbohydrate Restricted Diet. The Journal of Nutrition 2008:138 272-276
- Rolls BJ, Bell EA. Dietary Approach to Treatment of obesity. MedChin North Am. 2000:84: 401 – 418 Pubmed
- Scholar P. et al: Egg Consumption and High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol. Journal of Internal med. 1994: 233(3): 249-51