Eggs are an important part of a complete breakfast. At least, that’s how it’s always seemed. Our parents raised us on the importance of protein versus sugary cereals for the first meal of the day. Protein isn’t the only nutrient that eggs pack in their yolks, and not all of it has people excited. However, there is no reason to worry. Scientists have launched study after study to examine just how good eggs are for our bodies, and why we should be including them with breakfast every morning.
Clearing the Air About Eggs
For years, health experts have argued about whether or not the cholesterol content in eggs is good for us. High cholesterol is a factor in many harmful conditions like heart attacks, high blood pressure, weight gain, and stroke. (1) Additionally, many of the same risk factors associated with heart disease may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. (2) With these serious conditions in mind, we can see the necessity of taking our cholesterol levels seriously.
In the past, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommended no more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol a day through diet. (3) This recommendation is based on healthy adults with no pre-existing conditions related to heart disease, stroke, or dementia. One large egg has around 186 milligrams, meaning that only two eggs put you over the recommended daily amount. (4) However, that recommendation is being reconsidered by experts.
In 2013, the AHA and American College of Cardiology (ACC) stated there was not enough scientific evidence to show that limiting the cholesterol in your diet lowered “bad” cholesterol in the blood. This statement is supported by a study that examined the effects of cholesterol from eggs on heart health. Though the “bad” cholesterol rose in healthy subjects that ate eggs, so did the “good” cholesterol. (5) Ultimately, these two types of cholesterol essentially canceled out one another. Because of this, researchers concluded that cholesterol from eggs does not actually raise the risk for heart disease.
Boosted Brain Health From Eggs
Now we know that eating eggs won’t hurt our heart or associated brain health. Researchers from The University of Eastern Finland, however, wanted to find out what more eggs can do for us. They published a study that examined the diets of nearly 2,500 men over a period of 22 years. All subjects were between age 42 and 60, and all were free of any pre-existing diagnoses of memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. (6)
Three hundred thirty-seven of the total 2,500 developed a neurological condition by the end of the study period. Of these, the majority suffered from Alzheimer’s. After analyzing those subjects’ diets, the researchers found that neither cholesterol nor egg intake had any direct link to the development of their condition. (6) However, egg intake was associated with better performance on neuropsychological tests in all subjects. Additional research by Harvard Health suggests that eating just one egg a day may reduce the risk of hemorrhagic stroke by 28 percent. (7)
One large egg today contains around seven grams of high-quality protein, and can also have good levels of the antioxidants, vitamins E, and omega fatty acids. (8) Eggs also contain the essential nutrient choline. Along with vitamin E, choline can help aid brain health and development, as well as memory. (9)
The more we learn about eggs, the more it makes sense that our parents were cooking up these tasty delights. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and eggs make it complete. Not only do eggs give us daily fuel, they also boost our brains in a way that might have lasting, lifelong benefits. Hopefully, you’re as lucky as I am to be able to pick up a dozen eggs from local farmers at my local farmer’s market!