In the never-ending quest for the next groundbreaking superfood, it is easy to overlook the potential that lies within an egg. Past media attention to eggs has not always been positive, especially regarding their cholesterol content. But eggs, specifically the yolks, are a good source of choline, a nutrient that has been shown to be very important for mental health. How so? Choline plays both a structural and a functional role in the brain. Specifically, it is a component of many fatty molecules in the body, including the myelin sheath surrounding the nerve fibers in the brain. It is also part of a molecule called acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter (messenger molecule) that’s mainly involved in message transfers between nerves and muscles. It is important for brain development in the growing fetus.
Choline content aside, eggs are also a cheap source of good-quality protein. As we know, including some protein in your meals helps stabilize your blood sugar levels, which in turn helps prevent you from crashing too soon when your blood sugar drops.
How Much Choline Do You Need?
Because of its role in brain development, choline is one of the nutrients found as an additive in some cereals marketed to kids (such as Kashi’s Mighty Bites). But there is much more choline in one egg than you would get from a serving of cereal. One large hard-boiled egg contains 113 mg of choline, 20% of the DRI for adult males (or 25% of the DRI for adult females) for this nutrient.
Eggs and Cholesterol Concerns
Most studies show that healthy adults can enjoy one egg daily without increasing their risk for heart disease. However, if you are taking cholesterol medication or have been diagnosed with higher than normal LDL (bad) cholesterol, the American Heart Association’s recommendation is to limit your daily cholesterol intake to less than 200 mg. One egg contains slightly more than 200 mg of dietary cholesterol (all in the yolk).
How to Make Egg-ceptional Meals
Many of us associate eggs with breakfast, but there is no reason they can’t be part of your lunch or dinner choices. Besides serving eggs as they are, here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy them outside of breakfast:
- Swirl a beaten egg into boiling soup or pasta sauce.
- Next time you make sushi, include cooked eggs as a filling.
- Top an omelet with scallions and green beans, then cut up and toss with cooked noodles or rice for a yummy meatless meal.
- Make an “inside-out” spring roll, using a one-egg omelet as the shell and brown rice, asparagus, shitake mushrooms and red pepper as filling.