There are so many reasons to love eggs. As well as their superior nutritional profile, they are versatile (they can be breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack), portable (a boiled egg is the perfect on-the-go snack) and (ahem!) delicious too.
One of the lesser-known benefits of eggs though is the way they act as a superfood for your eyes.
Eyes are particularly susceptible to damage from oxidative stress, especially from harmful types of blue light (think computer screens, LED lighting, tablets and phones) and this can lead to problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts as you get older.
Studies have shown that one of the most effective ways to protect against this type of damage is to increase your intake of dietary antioxidants. Carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants, which have been found to be particularly helpful for protecting your eyes.
Carotenoids are found in rich supply in plant foods with orange, red and yellow colour pigments such as spinach, corn, orange bell peppers, tomato, carrots, sweet potato and kale; and eggs (particularly the yolk) are a surprisingly rich dietary source too! The total level of lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs doesn’t quite match that of plant foods such as kale and corn, however eggs have a secret weapon that makes them a much superior source overall.
Dietary carotenoids are fat-soluble which means they are much better absorbed when eaten together with fat. Eggs contain both carotenoids AND fat and this is what makes them the perfect delivery method for these eye-protective antioxidants.
A number of studies have shown that egg consumption effectively raises blood carotenoid levels and even macular pigment optical density (MPOD) – a significant measure of eye health.
Whilst some people are still wary of including more eggs in their diet due to cholesterol worries, the most current advice is that these fears are unfounded. Eggs are a supremely healthy addition to your diet and may become your secret weapon when it comes to nurturing healthy vision right through into old age.
Feeling inspired to feed your eyes? Here’s a carotenoid-rich recipe to get you started…
Green eggs – A carotenoid-rich recipe for eye health
This recipe is a super-healthy take on green eggs. It makes a brilliant breakfast, lunch or light dinner. It is packed full of eye-healthy carotenoids (eggs, spinach, tomatoes) and will keep you feeling nicely full for longer too.
You will need:
2 free range eggs
Handful of purple sprouting broccoli
1 tablespoon live yoghurt
A handful of spinach
6 cherry tomatoes halved
30g feta cheese
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
• Steam the broccoli for a couple of minutes and squeeze over a little lemon.
• Whisk together the eggs, yoghurt, spinach and cherry tomatoes.
• Pour into a small frying pan and cook over a low heat until the eggs are fluffy.
• Top with steamed broccoli, feta cheese and sunflower seeds.
• Season with freshly ground black pepper.
• Serve immediately and enjoy.
Kim JE, Gordon SL et al. Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed raw vegetables. Am J Clin Nutr 2015 Jul; 102 (1): 75-83. Doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.111062. Epub 2015 May 27
Goltz SR, Campbell WW et al. Meal tricylglycerol profile modulates postprandial absorption of carotenoids in humans. Mol Nutr Food Res 2012 Jun; 56(6):866-77. Doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100687
DiMarco DM, Norris GH et al. Intake of up to 3 eggs per day is associated with changes in HDL function and increased plasma antioxidants in healthy young adults. J Nutr 2017 Mar; 147 (3): 323-329. Doi: 10.3945/jn.116.241877. Epub 2017 Jan 11