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From head to toe with eggs

The below article was issued for the South African Poultry Association (SAPA) by Protactic Strategic Communications

From heart health to muscle building, eggs are a nutrient-rich food that should form part of a healthy diet for a healthy body.


With advanced medical care, we are living longer than ever before. By 2030, one in five Americans will be older than 65 years. With increasing age comes an expected increase in the number of people with cognitive troubles. Cognition refers to various functions of the brain, such as memory, thinking, learning, attention, and perception. This makes good cognitive function crucial for day-to-day life, governing our thoughts and actions.

Eggs contain choline and lutein, two nutrients known to be good for cognition and brain health.  Lutein is important during adulthood to help ward off age-related cognitive decline, and there are also studies to support that choline can help children do better at school.

Eggs are a good food choice to help meet our choline needs. Two eggs contain about 250mg of choline, about half the recommended amount needed for the average adult.  As for lutein, one egg yolk offers about 0.2 milligrams, with the lutein in eggs twice as better absorbed by the body than other sources of lutein, like spinach and kale.


At the centre of the retina, the thin layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye, are high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin. These nutrients have been shown to lower the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older people. Lutein and zeaxanthin are mostly found in egg yolks.


It is a misconception that eggs are bad for the heart. In fact, the opposite may in fact be true. Recently published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, when analysing data on over 37 000 participants in the large National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, researchers concluded that there is no link between eating eggs daily and the risk of dying from heart disease.  The 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended eating eggs as part of a healthy diet, as does the South African food-based dietary guideline.


When combined with resistance (weight) training, protein provides the building blocks for muscle building, as well as help with the repair that is necessary from muscle damage that results from training.

Researchers in Canada found that eating whole eggs immediately after resistance exercise resulted in better muscle building than if just the egg white was eaten. Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein with one large egg containing 7g of protein. A possible explanation for this is that the whole egg has considerably more nutrients, and it is the protein along with the nutrients that play a role. The egg yolk also contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and half of the protein of the whole egg. If you avoid eating the egg yolk, you are missing out on vitamin D and iron, too, all the more reason to eat the whole egg and avoid tossing the yolk.


  1. Schonfeldt, H.C. et al., 2013.  Fish, chicken, lean meat and eggs can be eaten daily: a food-based dietary guideline for South Africa. SAJCN. 26(S), S66-S76.
  2. van Vliet, S. et al., 2017. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of postexercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 106:1401–12.
  3. Wallace, T.C., 2018. A Comprehensive Review of Eggs, Choline, and Lutein on Cognition Across the Life-span. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 37(4): 269-285.
  4. Xia, P.F., 2020. Dietary Intakes of Eggs and Cholesterol in Relation to All-Cause and Heart Disease Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study. Journal of the American Heart Association. 9:e015743. DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.119.015743.


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