Surprised that eggs are considered a superfood? It wasn’t too long ago that eggs picked up a reputation as an unhealthy food to avoid because they could contribute to serious health problems. Now we know that just the opposite is true: Eggs are a concentrated source of potent nutrients and provide many health benefits. They can play a vital role in our diets, especially when we’re trying to shed excess pounds.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the many benefits of eggs… and a few tasty ways to prepare them:
Eggs are PowerFuels on the Nutrisystem program because they are a source of high-quality protein with only about 80 calories per serving. One large egg (one serving) comes with five grams of fat, including 1.6 grams of saturated fat. The concerns about egg consumption were based on the 187 milligrams of cholesterol in an average egg. High blood cholesterol levels are associated with heart disease, but recent research has determined that eating foods high in cholesterol does not directly increase the levels stored in your body. (Foods loaded with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, are more likely to lead to high blood cholesterol.)
A typical large egg provides you with about seven grams of complete protein (yet another one the superfood benefits of eggs), contained in both the yolk (yellow) and the albumen (white) parts. The yolk is a rich source of vitamin A and D, B vitamins, zinc and iron. It also delivers two important antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients protect your eyes from aging related conditions, such as macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the United States that affects over 10 million people. They also support healthy brain functioning.
Eggs supply you with choline, a nutrient that is especially important for pregnant women, as it plays a key role in fetal brain development. For everybody, choline helps our bodies maintain and replenish all kinds of cells, transmit nerve impulses and process fat and cholesterol in our diets. Only beef liver gives you more choline than eggs do.
For all of us on a weight loss journey, eggs may be most valuable because they help stave off hunger. People who ate an egg breakfast felt fuller afterwards and consumed significantly fewer calories at lunch and over the next 24 hours than those who ate a bagel-based breakfast with the same number of calories, according to study published in the journal Nutrition Research.
RELATED: The Benefits of Almonds >
If you buy eggs in the supermarket, they most likely have white shells. You may also see eggs with brown shells in grocery stores and if you shop at farmer’s markets or other sources, you may come across bluish and even speckled eggs. The color of the shells is directly related to the breed of chickens that laid them—there are no significant nutritional differences between eggs of different colors.
Many stores and farmers now offer “free-range” or “pasture-raised” eggs, which come from hens that feed themselves on their natural diet—insects and seeds—while roaming around outside. Chickens raised in standard conditions are kept inside and they get feed that’s pre-formulated for them, mostly from corn and soybeans. Egg yolks from free-range chickens tend to be brighter yellow or more orange than standard. Some research has found that free-range eggs are lower in saturated fat and higher in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
The many benefits of eggs make this superfood a healthy way to fuel up for your day, but breakfast isn’t the only time to enjoy them. Separating the yolk from the white greatly expands the kinds of dishes you can make with eggs. To learn how to do it without making a mess, check out this video >
RELATED: Why You Need More Ginger in Your Diet >
Now check out these six delicious and egg-cellent superfood recipes to reap the many benefits of eggs:
1. Cloud Eggs >
For a light and fluffy egg dish, whip up the albumen (the white part!) and then cook the yolk within the foamy cloud of white.
2. Veggie Omelet Muffins >
Take your eggs to go with these simple muffins, loaded with cheese and veggies, along with the nutritional punch of eggs.
3. Thanksgiving Breakfast Cups >
What to make on the morning after a big holiday? Use leftover turkey and potatoes (white or sweet) along with fresh eggs to make a handy breakfast that will nourish the whole gang.
4. Skinny Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich >
You can make a filling flex lunch with all of the creaminess and flavor you love, but with more healthy fats and plenty of protein to keep you energized all afternoon.
5. Not So Devilish Deviled Eggs >
The party-time favorite gets a healthy makeover, so you and your guests can enjoy it during the holiday season or whenever you all get together.
6. 5-Ingredient Veggie Frittata >
Eggs are the foundation of this filling and nutritious meal that comes with rich mozzarella and cottage cheese.