You might be wondering why I’m doing a post on eggs. Well, to put it simply, the answer is: they’re an awesome food with healthy fats, vitamins and a punch of protein along with it. They are, what I would consider an optimum food for runners.
Two key amino acids found in eggs are tryptophan and tyrosine; two compounds that have strong antioxidant properties which can help to combat the free radicals formed when running. Free radicals are chemicals produced by the body due to the high intake of oxygen whilst running and are associated with oxidative stress, a type of damage to the body’s tissues which is known to cause accelerated ageing.
- Vitamin B2 (used to break down food to convert nutrients into energy to maintain a healthy metabolism).
- Selenium (helps to create antioxidants which prevent cell damage).
- Choline (maintains liver function, aids brain development, nerve function, muscle movement and supports energy levels).
- Vitamin D (helps to absorb calcium which aids bone growth and keeps bones strong).
- Vitamin B6 (helps to maintain nerve and liver function, skin health, eye health and a healthy metabolism).
- Vitamin B12 (important for metabolism, aids in the formation of red blood cells and maintains the central nervous system).
- Zinc (maintains a healthy immune system, used in cell growth, breakdown of carbohydrates and wound healing).
- Iron (used to form haemoglobin and myoglobin, which are used for transporting oxygen around the body).
- Copper (necessary for the maintenance of bone, brain, connective tissue, heart and other body organs).
Clearly, eggs are a true nutrients powerhouse when it comes to minerals and vitamins, but that’s not all they contain, and there are even more benefits they have to offer.
A Purdue University study found that the lipids in eggs can increase the absorption of carotenoids in vegetables. In a salad with 3 eggs vs a salad with no eggs, absorption of carotenoids was almost 4 times higher in the salad with 3 eggs. Carotenoids are compounds found in plants which are known to play a role as antioxidants in the human body.
Eggs also contain omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to aid cognitive function and reduce inflammation (this includes inflammation caused by the stress of running on the body). Ultimately, how much omega 3’s the eggs contain depend on the diet that the chicken or hen that laid the egg had. Usually, organic chicken eggs will have a higher amount of omega 3’s than caged chicken eggs. Omega 3 fortified eggs are also a good bet as these chickens are fed omega 3 supplements, flaxseed and linseed. One study showed that omega 3 fortified eggs had up to 5 times more omega 3’s than your typical supermarket egg and around 40% less omega 6’s.
You may have noticed I mentioned that the omega 3 fortified eggs had less omega 6’s as if this is a good thing. Well, truthfully, our diets tend to have far too many omega 6’s to omega 3’s. The ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s should be around 2:1, but it tends to be around 15:1 in the typical western diet. That is why it can be a good thing to have eggs with lower levels of omega 6’s.
Anyway, omega 6’s are also very good for you, and eggs are a good source of these. They help to:
- Fight inflammation
- Reduce high blood pressure
- Decrease risk of heart disease
- Support bone health
Concerned about Cholesterol?
Well, contrary to popular belief, eggs do not tend to increase your levels of low density lipoproteins a.k.a. LDL’s or bad cholesterol. Whilst eggs do contain a fair amount of dietary cholesterol (180mg approx), research has shown that they do increase the amount of high density lipoproteins a.k.a. HDL’s or good cholesterol in the blood. HDL’s are known to decrease the risk of heart disease whilst LDL’s have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. Here’s another study showing that eggs do not increase your risk of heart disease, even in those genetically predisposed.
The takeaway? Don’t worry about cholesterol in eggs. If anything, it’s good for you.
Well, it turns out that eggs are an absolute powerhouse when it comes to containing healthy fats, proteins and many other vital nutrients that cannot be produced by the body and even enhancing the absorption of nutrients. This is why I think they should be an essential part of a runner’s diet and should be eaten at least twice a week.
Are you a fan of eggs? I know I am! Let me know how you like to cook up your eggs in the morning down below!