By Will Hawkins

Are eggs good for you?

We've all seen fads surrounding eggs and wellbeing - from drinking them raw every morning, to adding them to all three meals of the day. But is it worth it? And what's more, is it healthy?

I've explored the facts behind what is hailed as one of nature's best superfoods. Read on to find out:

All of the information below relates to the health benefits of eating hen's eggs - the nutritional value of other eggs can vary.

The nutritional value of eggs is outstanding

How many calories are in an egg?

Whilst one egg contains approximately 78 calories, there's a lot more to the food than that. Eggs are packed with protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Are egg whites or yolks healthy?

Almost all of the nutrients in an egg are found in their yolk - meaning those 'healthy' egg-white omelettes aren't necessarily the best breakfast option.

Eggs - mainly their yolks - contain:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B groups - including choline, a nutrient linked to improving health, liver and neurological (brain) health.
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • 5 grams of fat
  • 6 grams of protein - in contrast to the nutrients above, almost all of an egg's protein is found in the whites of an egg.

Fitness fads have led people to focus on using only egg whites in their diets due to the lower calorie and fat levels associated with avoiding the yolk. However, in doing so, they miss out on a healthy dose of nutrients that our body requires daily.

Eggs are a great source of 'good' cholesterol - and they don't increase your risk of heart disease

Eggs are high in cholesterol, which has, in the past, put people off them in a bid to regulate their levels of dietary cholesterol.

So what's changed?

One egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol - until recently, the recommended daily intake of cholesterol was 300 mg. However, with more research having been carried out into the superfood,  there is no longer a specific RDA for cholesterol - as long as people monitor their diet and factor in HDL ('good') cholesterol, and LDL ('bad') cholesterol.

Eggs have been found to raise our levels of 'good' cholesterol, whilst reducing the effects of 'bad' cholesterol on our bodies. So, despite the myths of the past suggesting that eggs could increase a person's risk of heart disease, there have been studies to support the fact that this is actually a false assumption.

Eggs are a great source of protein

A large egg (which is about 50 grams) consists of, on average, 6 grams of protein.

It's become consistent in recent research that an optimal daily protein intake in order to experience all of the health benefits of protein should be between 1.6-2.0g per kg of bodyweight.

So, for a 65kg person, this could be look like 104g-130g per day. 3 eggs can provide over 20g protein , making it an effective food to help you bump up your daily protein intake.

Eggs and amino acids

Diving into some of the detail here - eggs contain, more specifically, high quality proteins. Proteins are made up of 'building blocks' called amino acids.

Eggs contain the nine essential amino acids required for the body to function, that it's unable to produce itself. It's important that you consume these amino acids through your diet as they can impact our immune system, energy levels and muscle tissue growth.

Eggs are good for healthy weight loss

Wondering what to have for breakfast?

One study has shown that eating two eggs (including their yolks) for breakfast, over a more carbohydrate-focused meal, can promote fat loss in overweight individuals who are following otherwise identical energy-deficit diets.

The study found that incorporating eggs into a diet aimed as weight-loss helped participants lose body fat, reduce their BMI and their waist circumference.

How? Eggs have been found to give us a more significant, and longer lasting, feeling of being full after a meal. This means you're less likely to overindulge after eating your standard meals, keeping your calorie intake on track if you're looking to lose excess weight.

How an egg's Lutein and Zeaxanthin levels help your sight

Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two antioxidants found in egg yolks.

Naturally occurring in the body, these antioxidants help to protect your eye from sun damage. They've also been linked to reducing the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.

Adding eggs to your daily diet can significantly increase your levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin, helping you to ward off the onset of future vision impairments.

How many eggs should you eat a day?

The NHS doesn't recommend a limit on how many eggs a day you should eat.

It's important to note that, whilst overall eggs can provide great health benefits, studies show that consuming up to a maximum of 3 eggs a day favoured well-balanced cholesterol levels, and 2 eggs a day favoured weight-loss in overweight individuals.

So, as with everything, remember to enjoy eggs in moderation. I'd recommend consuming 1-3 eggs a day to benefit from their nutrients, whilst maintaining good health.

What's the healthiest way to eat eggs?

Whilst they're one of the easiest and most nutritious foods we can add to our lunch box, the different ways in which you can cook eggs can have a big impact on their health benefits

If you want to add eggs to your diet in the healthiest way possible, try boiled eggs or poached eggs - and avoid frying them. Because of their naturally occurring fat content, you should try to limit adding extra fat to your eggs during cooking. Avoid using oil, butter and salt, and use low-fat milk when making scrambled eggs.

Are raw eggs good for you?

Despite their popularity amongst dedicated fitness and wellbeing followers, eating raw eggs isn't actually that beneficial. Protein is harder to digest from raw eggs, and there's the low risk of uncooked eggs being contaminated with bacteria like Salmonella.

Whilst contaminated eggs aren't as big of a problem as they used to be within the UK, certain groups of people should avoid raw or runny eggs to be safe. This includes pregnant women, young children, older people and those with weakened immune systems.