The controversy over whether egg yolks are healthy or a sure path to heart disease seems to be the nutrition equivalent of the Hundred Years’ War. While there’s no end in sight, we feel we made a good case for why eggs (especially the organic variety, born of pasture-raised hens) are a perfectly healthy and high-performance food in our rebuttal to the vegan documentary What The Health. And new evidence has just emerged to further the cause, particularly when it comes to the development of children.
Eggs Help Growth
A study in Ecuador fed one egg per day to children aged six to nine months. After six months, the kids had grown taller and gained more weight than a control group given no eggs. Also worth noting: the infants were fed fewer sugar-sweetened foods than the control. With that variable unaccounted for, it is possible that sugar-sweetened foods contributed to a stunting of the infant’s growth as well. Nonetheless the researchers concluded that early introduction to eggs significantly improved growth in young children, making them particularly valuable in developing nations where kids are at risk for stunted growth due to malnutrition.
Evidence suggests that eggs may start working wonders before children are even born. According to research out of Cornell University published earlier this month, pregnant mothers who supplemented with lots of choline gave birth to babies with improved brain function. A micronutrient needed for dozens of body processes, including cell growth and nerve health, choline is found naturally in meat, fish, vegetables, nuts, and (tada!) egg yolks.
After the subjects’ children were born, researchers tested the tykes at four, seven, 10, and 13 months old. They timed how long it took the infants to look at an image on a computer screen, which measures the time it takes for a cue to produce a motor response. The test correlates with IQ, and infants with fast processing speeds typically grow into quick-minded adolescents and adults. It turns out that the women in the study who took in nearly twice as much choline in their final trimester as the government recommends gave birth to children with faster processing speeds and visuospatial memory.
Interestingly, another group of mothers in the study were given only slightly more choline than the government’s referenced daily intake and still produced kids with faster reaction times, indicating that even modest increases in choline intake during pregnancy can be beneficial.
The study’s lead author told Science Daily that while choline is so important for expecting mothers, most don’t get enough, “due to current dietary trends and practices”—e.g., avoiding eggs because of fear of cholesterol.
For further reading on foods containing cholesterol and saturated fat, see “The Truth About Coconut Oil and Your Heart.”