It helped me go deep on the “why” of my workouts.
What comes to mind when you think of some of the most popular breakfast staples? Surely, some form of egg dish ranks among the top five. But according to registered dietitians, that should come as little surprise, considering eggs are one of the best foods to eat for long-term health.
We recently caught up with two registered dietitians that delved into the many ways that consuming eggs can help with almost every facet of our well-being, from providing an adequate source of protein to supporting bone health as we age. Ahead, we explore the many reasons why most consider eggs “nature’s multivitamin” and how folks in longevity hotspots eat them to help bolster their health in the long run.
What are the health benefits of consuming eggs?
According to Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, LD, CLEC, CPT, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, South Carolina, eggs are a nutritional, economical, and highly versatile powerhouse ingredient with both long and short-term benefits. In the short term, eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein—one large egg provides a little over six grams of the nutrient—which is beneficial to keep in mind considering we can use all the protein we can get to help fuel our day. (Read: Dietitians recommend consuming at least 30 grams of protein for breakfast.)
They’re also packed with essential vitamins and minerals like A, D, E, K, and B vitamins that can help support the immune system, as well as phosphorus, that are beneficial for the health of bones and teeth. That said, their long-term benefits may be an even bigger selling point. Hellooo, healthy aging.
4 impressive long-term benefits of eggs for healthy aging
1. Protein can help support muscle development
What’s potentially even more compelling are the long-term health benefits associated with consuming eggs regularly. Registered dietitian Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN, says protein isn’t only essential for day-to-day activities. “As a complete protein, eggs can help support your muscle tissue. As we age, we generally lose muscle at a faster rate, so a diet rich in protein may be able to slow this natural progression and can even enable you to gain muscle,” Rifkin says. Eating eggs = power move.
“As a complete protein, eggs can help support your muscle tissue. As we age, we generally lose muscle at a faster rate, so a diet rich in protein may be able to slow this natural progression and can even enable you to gain muscle.”—Melissa Rifkin, MS, RD, CDN
2. They can help support cognitive function and the nervous system
What’s even more impressive is that not only do eggs help support our bodies physically, but they can also play a critical role in our mental health. “Egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline, a nutrient that impacts brain health throughout the lifecycle. Data suggests that choline intake and better cognitive function,” Manaker says. Meanwhile, Rifkin adds that choline is an essential nutrient that fuels nervous system cells and supports overall nervous system health.
3. They support eye health
In addition to supporting our bodies mentally and physically, eggs also have promising eye health benefits. Manaker says that’s due to two carotenoids found in egg yolks, called lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help reduce the risk of developing macular degeneration when consumed in adequate amounts.
4. They can lower the risk of heart disease
Both dietitians agree that eating them regularly can help increase HDL “good” cholesterol levels. “Those with higher HDL values may have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke,” Rifkin says. According to the American Heart Association, a whole egg should be considered part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern. “Other data suggest that eggs contain antioxidant properties, which may play a role in cardiovascular disease risk,” Manaker says.
What are some of the best ways to eat eggs to reap their benefits?
According to Rifkin, whole eggs are a great place to start since they can be prepared in so many different ways and paired with endless options to create well-balanced meals and snacks. However, if you’re pressed for time, she suggests noshing on Egglife Egg White Wraps, which offer a convenient, ready-to-eat wrap that can be enjoyed straight from the fridge, warmed up, or stuffed with the fillings of your choice, depending on what you prefer.
Can you reap the long-term benefits of eggs if you only consume part of it?
Depending on dietary needs and preferences, some folks might consume only the yolks or whites of an egg. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re totally missing out on their long-term benefits altogether. That’s to say: You don’t need to consume eggs in their entirety to reap some of their nutrient benefits. “Egg whites are an excellent way to add protein to your daily intake while minimizing caloric intake. In fact, egg white is free of fat and any cholesterol,” Rifkin says.
So, how do folks in longevity hotspots enjoy eggs?
According to the food guidelines of the Blue Zones, eggs are consumed in moderation in these longevity hotspots with some of the highest concentrations of centenarians. Research shows that folks in all of the Blue Zones eat eggs about two to four times per week. Additionally, they’re typically combined with some sort of whole grain or plant-based dish.
When taking a closer look at some of the Blue Zones and their egg-eating habits, you’ll find that Nicoyans fry an egg to fold into a corn tortilla with a side of beans, Okinawans boil an egg in their soups, and folks in the Mediterranean Blue Zones (Sardinia and Ikaria) fry an egg as a side dish to serve with bread, almonds, and olives for breakfast. The Blue Zones guidelines also recommend sourcing eggs that come from free-range chickens that have exposure to a hormone- and antibiotic-free diet for the most long-term benefits.
An RD shares the health benefits of eating eggs: