March 17, 2023

Exciting Nutritional News on Egg Protein

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. In fact, when ranked scientifically among other protein sources, eggs come out on top. Now, a new study published in June 2022 did a deep dive into the specific benefits of egg protein. Turns out, this high-quality protein source plays a role in protecting against sarcopenia, building muscle, and helping with weight maintenance.

Protein quality

I’ve written before about egg protein being highly digestible and a source of all of the essential amino acids. In fact, eggs are considered to be a perfect protein source. When evaluating the quality of other proteins from meat, beans, nuts, etc., eggs serve as the standard of comparison.

Roughly 60 percent of the protein in eggs is found in the white, and 40 percent is found in the yolk. Interestingly, the type of protein in the yolk and white differs slightly, so you want to eat both parts for the best benefit. Egg white protein called ovomucin has antiviral properties, while egg yolk contains phosvitin , which is an antioxidant.

Muscle health and sarcopenia

Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle and strength as we age. In older adults, eggs have been shown to combat sarcopenia, improve skeletal muscle health and reduce muscle protein breakdown. Keeping muscles strong can help:

- Decrease the risk of injury from falls

- Improve insulin sensitivity and decrease type 2 diabetes

- Decrease the risk of osteoporosis

- Improve physical function

- Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

In addition to exercise, getting enough protein is key to muscle health. But all proteins are not created equal. Plant-based protein results in less muscle protein synthesis compared to animal-based proteins. That’s because plant proteins are low in leucine, the amino acid that is the strongest stimulator of making muscle. Eggs are high in leucine. We need 700-3000 mg leucine for maximal stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. Two eggs provide ~1000 mg of leucine.

Weight maintenance

The protein content in eggs helps promote satiety, or the feeling of fullness. If you feel full and satisfied after a protein-rich meal, it means you’re less likely to consume excess calories after the meal. This helps with weight control and weight maintenance. Studies also show that eggs suppress appetite and decrease levels of ghrelin, which is the hormone that makes you feel hungry.

Eggs for all ages

Other studies show that egg consumption can help reduce anemia in children ; and can improve growth in children. Plus, breastfeeding mothers who eat eggs have breastmilk with higher nutrient quality, which helps with infant growth and development. I often get asked when you should introduce eggs to children, in particular babies, you can find more information in my blog post When to Introduce Eggs to Babies .

Another bonus: Eggs have a high nutrient value for a relatively low cost. In fact, when compared to other animal proteins, eggs will most often have the lowest cost for the best quality protein. Egg protein is affordable, high quality, and has health benefits for all ages throughout their lifespan, from infant to older adults. Choose eggs as part of your meals and snacks.

Margaret Hudson,

President and CEO, Burnbrae Farms