Find out why eggs are the gold standard when it comes to protein. If there’s one food that’s developed an undeserved reputation over the years for being bad for your health, it’s eggs.

Eggs are an excellent, inexpensive source of high-quality protein — so high, in fact, that egg protein is the gold standard nutritionists use to rank all other proteins. What makes the protein in eggs so superior? It contains all of the essential amino acids (the ones your body can’t make on its own) in just the right proportions.

Because they’re all protein and fat, eggs have no impact on your blood sugar, making them a much better breakfast choice than, say, a stack of white-flour pancakes. And like all protein foods, they may help control your appetite by keeping you full longer. One study found that women who ate two eggs with toast at breakfast felt less hungry before lunch and ate significantly fewer calories during the rest of the day than those who ate a bagel and cream cheese that provided the same number of calories.

Now, about eggs and cholesterol. Yes, it’s true, eggs have a lot of it — about 213 milligrams — all in the yolk. It’s also true that if you have diabetes, your heart health should be a top priority. But dozens of studies have found that it’s saturated fat, not cholesterol, that has the greatest effect on blood cholesterol, so eating eggs in moderation is just fine. For people with elevated cholesterol or those who are especially sensitive to the cholesterol in foods (for some people, cholesterol levels do rise after eating a cholesterol-rich meal), experts recommend eating no more than three or four egg yolks a week. Egg whites, which contain no cholesterol, don’t count.

Health Bonus
Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally rich in vitamin D, a much-needed vitamin that few of us get enough of. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium
and has recently been linked with lower risks of various cancers to boot. Eggs are also a surprisingly good source of bone-building vitamin K. Plus, they’re loaded with lutein (the chickens get it from their feed), which helps protect against macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in older folks. Eggs also contain choline, a compound that animal studies suggest could help improve your memory as you age. Some studies found that giving extra choline to pregnant rats created better-functioning brain cells in their babies.

Glycemic Load: Very low

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail
We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.