Beyond easily upping your daily protein count—each 85-calorie egg packs a solid 7 grams of the muscle-builder—eggs also improve your health. They’re loaded with amino acids, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Don’t just reach for the whites, though; the yolks boast a fat-fighting nutrient called choline, so opting for whole eggs can actually help you trim down.
When you’re shopping for eggs, pay attention to the labels. You should opt for organic, when possible. These are certified by the USDA and are free from antibiotics, vaccines and hormones. As for color, that’s your call. The difference in color just varies based on the type of chicken—they both have the same nutritional value, says Molly Morgan, RD, CDN, CSSD a board-certified sports specialist dietitian based in upstate New York.
Below, we’ve rounded up the 17 incredible health benefits you may experience by eating eggs—you may even consider eating eggs every day!
1. You’ll boost your immune system.
If you don’t want to play chicken with infections, viruses, and diseases, add an egg or two to your diet daily. Just one large egg contains almost a quarter (22%) of your RDA of selenium, a nutrient that helps support your immune system and regulate thyroid hormones. Kids should eat eggs, especially. If children and adolescents don’t get enough selenium, they could develop Keshan disease and Kashin-Beck disease, two conditions that can affect the heart, bones, and joints.
2. You can improve your cholesterol profile.
There are three ideas about cholesterol that most people know:
1) High cholesterol is a bad thing;
2) There are good and bad kinds of cholesterol;
3) Eggs contain plenty of it.
Doctors are generally most concerned with the ratio of “good” cholesterol (HDL) to bad cholesterol (LDL). One large egg contains 212 mg of cholesterol, but this doesn’t mean that eggs will raise the “bad” kind in the blood. The body constantly produces cholesterol on its own, and a large body of evidence indicates that eggs can actually improve your cholesterol profile. How? Eggs seem to raise HDL (good) cholesterol while increasing the size of LDL particles (which are thought to be less dangerous than small particles). If you have cholesterol problems, make sure to consult your doctor before changing your diet. Dietitians recommend consuming no more than 2 eggs every day.
3. You’ll reduce your risk of heart disease.
Not only have eggs been found to not increase risk of coronary heart disease, but they might actually decrease your risk. LDL cholesterol became known as “bad” cholesterol because LDL particles transport their fat molecules into artery walls, and drive atherosclerosis: basically, the gumming up of the arteries. (HDL particles, by contrast, can remove fat molecules from artery walls.) But not all LDL particles are made equal, and there are various subtypes that differ in size. Bigger is definitely better — many studies have shown that people who have predominantly small, dense LDL particles have a higher risk of heart disease than people who have mostly large LDL particles. Here’s the best part: Even if eggs tend to raise LDL cholesterol in some people, studies show that the LDL particles change from small and dense to large, slashing the risk of cardiovascular problems, including heart disease.
4. You’ll experience a boost in energy levels.
Just one large fried egg contains nearly 18% of your DV of vitamin B2, also called riboflavin. It’s just one of eight B vitamins, which all help the body to convert food into fuel, which in turn is used to produce energy, making it the perfect food for all-day energy.
5. You’ll support skin and hair health.
B-complex vitamins are also necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. (In addition to vitamin B2, eggs are also rich in B5 and B12.) They also help to ensure the proper function of the nervous system as well as support muscle strength.
6. You’ll protect your brain.
Eggs are brain food. That’s largely because of an essential nutrient called choline. It’s a component of cell membranes and is required to synthesize acetylcholine: a neurotransmitter. Studies show that a lack of choline has been linked to neurological disorders and decreased cognitive function. Shockingly, more than 90% of Americans eat less than the daily recommended amount of choline, according to a U.S. dietary survey.
An added brain health benefit of eating eggs is attributed to their omega-3 fatty acid content. There are approximately 225 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids in each egg. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most important healthy fats to have in your diet because they help prevent heart disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis. Research has also shown that omega-3s are beneficial for protecting against Alzheimer’s disease and improving cognitive function.
7. You’ll grow stronger nails.
Are your nails brittle and break off easily? Consider incorporating more eggs into your diet. Why? They’re an excellent source of biotin, a type of B vitamin which research suggests can help strengthen nails. The yolks have the largest concentration of biotin, so don’t skimp on the yellow center!
8. You may experience less stress or anxiety.
If you’re deficient in the 9 amino acids that can be found in egg protein, it can have mental effects. A 2004 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described how supplementing a population’s diet with lysine significantly reduced anxiety and stress levels, possibly by modulating serotonin in the nervous system.
Lysine is an essential amino acid that your body can’t produce on its own and you must get it through your diet. Eggs are one of the top food sources rich in lysine, containing 455 milligrams of lysine per whole large fried egg. The World Health Organization’s daily requirement for lysine is 30 mg/kg. So, for a 70 kilogram, or 154-pound person, one egg would serve 22% of your recommended daily intake of the essential amino acid.
9. Micronutrients in egg yolks support eye health.
Two antioxidants found in eggs—lutein and zeaxanthin—have powerful protective effects on the eyes. You won’t find them in a carton of Egg Beaters; they only exist in the yolk. The antioxidants significantly reduce the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts, which are among the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness in the elderly. In a study published in theJournal of Nutrition, participants who ate 1.3 egg yolks every day for four-and-a-half weeks saw increased blood levels of zeaxanthin by 114-142% and lutein by 28-50%!
10. You’ll improve your bone and teeth health.
Eggs are one of the few natural sources of Vitamin D, which is important for the health and strength of bones and teeth. It does this primarily by aiding the absorption of calcium. (Calcium, incidentally, is important for a healthy heart, colon and metabolism.)
11. Egg protein helps you feel fuller and eat less.
Eggs are such a good source of quality protein that all other sources of protein are measured against them. (Eggs get a perfect score of 100.) Many studieshave demonstrated the effect of high-protein foods on appetite. Simply put, they take the edge off. You might not be surprised to learn that eggs score high on a scale called the Satiety Index: a measure of how much foods contribute to the feeling of fullness.
12. You’ll lose fat.
Largely because of their satiating power, eggs have been linked with fat loss. An International Journal of Obesity study on this produced some 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 61% greater reduction in BMI and saw a 34% greater reduction in waist circumference!
13. You’ll promote liver health.
B-vitamins aren’t the only ovular micronutrients that contribute to eggs’ beneficial effects on liver health. Eggs are also rich in the nutrient choline. (One large egg contains between 117 and 147 milligrams of the nutrient, depending on your cooking method of choice). A recent review explained that choline deficiency is linked to the accumulation of hepatic lipid, which can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Luckily, a Journal of Nutrition study found that a higher dietary choline intake may be associated with a lower risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver in women.
14. You’ll lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another side effect of choline deficiency and the subsequent accumulation of hepatic lipid is an increase in your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
15. You’ll lower inflammation levels.
Eggs are a major source of dietary phospholipids: bioactive compounds which studies show have widespread effects on inflammation. A recent review published in the journal Nutrients connected dietary intake of egg phospholipids and choline with a reduction in countless biomarkers of inflammation. Lowering inflammation has widespread health benefits that range from lowering risk of cardiovascular disease to improving the body’s ability to break down fat. If you’re looking to lower inflammation, look no further than adding these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
16. You’ll fend off metabolic disease.
Eating eggs is one of the best ways to increase your HDL “good” cholesterol levels. People with higher levels of HDL cholesterol have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health conditions. According to a 2008 study in the Journal of Nutrition, increasing your intake of dietary cholesterol from eggs can also help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.
17. You’ll build lean muscle.
When you work out, your body needs protein to repair the tears in your muscle tissue from exercising. Eggs are a great post-workout snack or meal because just one has about six grams of the muscle-building macro. Whisk two into a scramble or an omelet with some veggies, and you have the perfect dish for getting lean and toned.