For the week of May 2, 2016

Yolks for healthy folks

By John Schlageck, Kansas Farm Bureau

When it comes to protein, eggs remain the gold standard, because the high quality protein in eggs provides the mental and physical energy we all need.

Yes, eating eggs is good news if you want to remain healthy. Eggs provide a healthy immune system, optimal brain health and may check hunger pains.

Research shows a deficiency in protein can deplete immune cells and contribute to the body’s inability to make antibodies. Amino acids including glutamine and arginine are now being considered as nutrition therapy in pre-surgery patients because of their ability to stimulate the immune system. Conveniently, those amino acids are found in eggs.

Eggs should be part of a diet that also includes fish and meat that are chock full of complete proteins.

But what about all the cholesterol in eggs?

No doubt, eggs remain one of the most concentrated sources of cholesterol.

Medical research indicates, however, that cholesterol in food has a much smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol than does the mix of fats in your diet.

There is some evidence that eating whole eggs increases High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) the good cholesterol that protects the heart.

Heart disease risk increased among men and women with diabetes who ate one or more eggs a day. People with both diabetes and heart disease should limit the eggs they eat to no more than three per week, according to the Harvard School of Public Health.

For healthy folks, nutrients specific to the egg yolk can help promote health. Like most cholesterol-rich foods, eggs are filled with necessary nutrients. The yolk contains most of an egg’s fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and nutrients.

Medical research maintains yolks are one of the richest dietary sources of choline. This essential amino acid nutrient contributes to brain health by maintaining the structure of your brain cell membranes. The variety of nutrients in an egg yolk is so inclusive, eggs offer better insurance than a multi-vitamin.

A diet rich in choline provides the body with so-called happy hormones. When they break down, these hormones produce serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.

Egg yolks also contain a big dose of sulfur. Sulfur helps with everything from vitamin B absorption to liver function. This nutrient aids collagen and keratin production, which creates and maintains healthy hair, strong nails and glowing skin.

Egg whites are also a low-calorie, low-fat source of protein. Some research indicates diets rich in high-quality protein found in eggs, may help promote weight loss and prevent weight gain in adults.

There’s evidence meals high in protein will, during the long term, reduce body fats, according to Heather Leidy, Ph.D. in nutrition and exercise at the University of Missouri. High-protein breakfasts may be especially helpful in weight loss because they may help control appetite and decrease food intake throughout the rest of the day.

No doubt about it – eggs are good for our health.

John Schlageck is a leading commentator on agriculture and rural Kansas. Born and raised on a diversified farm in northwestern Kansas, his writing reflects a lifetime of experience, knowledge and passion.