Eggs should be considered a “superfood” because they can boost health and help tackle obesity, food experts have said.
In a study to be published in the journal Nutrition and Food Science, researchers analysed data from 71 research and reference papers that examined the nutrient content of eggs and their role in our diet.
Despite being low in calories, they discovered that eggs are a rich source of protein and are packed with essential nutrients thought vital to good health, particularly vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium and choline.
The study, funded by the British Egg Industry Council, also confirmed that among protein foods, eggs contain the richest mix of essential amino acids – crucial for children, adolescents and young adults since a balance of amino acids is required for proper growth and repair.
And because eggs contain high levels of antioxidants, they may even help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of sight loss in the UK, said the researchers.
Dr Carrie Ruxton, an independent dietitian and lead author of the report, said: “The health benefits of eggs would appear to be so great that it’s perhaps no exaggeration to call them a superfood.
“Eggs are not only low in calories but are packed with nutrients that are essential to healthy living. They are an ideal food at every stage of life, as well as being easy to cook and enjoyable to eat.”
The study also identified specific groups who would benefit from eating more eggs including children, teenagers, heavy meat eaters and people who don’t like milk.
An important finding of the study is that eggs are an important dietary source of vitamin D. Eating an egg daily provides more than 20% of an adult’s recommended daily allowance.
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with a variety of health conditions such as poor bone health, cancer, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, disorders of the immune system and mental health problems.
Eggs may also play a useful role in weight loss and dieting, according to the researchers, as a medium sized egg has fewer than 80kcals. They highlighted a study which suggested that eating two scrambled eggs for breakfast can contribute to greater satiety – a feeling of fullness – while reducing calorie intake throughout the day and over the following 36 hours.
Dr Ruxton concluded: “For the general population, there are clear nutritional benefits to eating eggs on a regular basis.
“Emerging evidence suggests that eggs may be beneficial for satiety, weight control and eye health. With previous limits on egg consumption lifted, most people would benefit from a return to the days of going to work on an egg.”
Egg contains the highest quality food protein known. It is so nearly perfect, in fact, that egg protein is often the standard by which all other proteins are judged. Based on the essential amino acids it provides, egg protein is second only to mother’s milk for human nutrition. On a scale with 100 representing top efficiency, these are the biological values of proteins in several foods.
Eggs are packed with a number of nutrients. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals for only 75 calories. Eggs are also a good source of high-quality protein including all nine essential amino acids, as well as healthy unsaturated fats. Lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that contribute to eye health, are also found in eggs.
* Choline – 23% Daily Value: Essential for normal functioning of all cells, including those involved with metabolism, brain and nerve function, memory, and the transportation of nutrients throughout the body. Choline also helps prevent birth defects, as well as helps promote brain and memory development in infants.
* Selenium – 23% Daily Value: Acts as an antioxidant to prevent breakdown of body tissues. Selenium works hand-in-hand with vitamin E to protect against some chronic diseases.
* Riboflavin – 14% Daily Value: Helps to produce energy in all the cells of the body.
* Vitamin B12 – 11% Daily Value: Works to support normal digestion and nerve cell function.
* Phosphorus – 10% Daily Value: Essential for healthy bones, teeth and cell membranes. Phosphorus is also required for energy production in the body.
* Pantothenic Acid – 7% Daily Value: Helps breakdown food and assists body cells in producing energy.
* Folate – 6% Daily Value: Promotes proper fetal development and red blood cell formation.
* Iron – 5% Daily Value: Plays an important role in red blood cell production and oxygen transport.
* Vitamin A – 5% Daily Value: Supports growth and maintains healthy skin, vision and immune function.
* Vitamin D – 5% Daily Value: Works with calcium to strengthen bones and teeth.
* Zinc – 4% Daily Value: Assists in maintaining immune function, as well as body tissue growth and repair.
* Vitamin B6 – 3.5% Daily Value: Keeps nerve transmission running smoothly and aids protein in immune function.
* Calcium – 3% Daily Value: Helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. This mineral also plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting.