When it comes to healthy eating, eggs can be a great source of protein, vitamin A, magnesium and vitamin D. Magnesium is an important mineral which helps with nerve and muscle function, and vitamin D - the "sunshine hormone" which you can also get through our best SAD lamps - helps regulate and boost our mood.
However, eggs also carry a load of cholesterol which can contribute to heart disease and metabolic syndrome. In addition, they can take on lots of extra calories if they're fried or baked in fat.
Eggs can be a very healthy addition to your breakfast, lunch or dinner, or they could be a veritable calorie bomb, harmful to your heart and your waistline So what's the healthiest way to cook eggs, so you get as many benefits and as few downsides as possible?
To start with, the protein in eggs is more digestible when cooked. Our bodies can use only 51% of the proteins in raw eggs, and up to 91% in cooked eggs, according to research (opens in new tab). Cooked eggs are also rich in biotin, a vitamin which is very important in fat or sugar metabolism.
So we've established cooking your eggs is beneficial for the protein. However, when you cook eggs, you do lose some of their vitamin and antioxidants: for example, the egg's vitamin A content can decrease by up to 20% when cooked.
It's well-known eggs contain a sizeable amount of cholesterol, but this can become especially harmful when the egg is cooked at a high heat. When cooked or processed, this cholesterol can become oxidised according to the journal Biology Research (opens in new tab), and oxidised cholesterol has been strongly linked to heart disease.
So we want to cook our eggs to get the most out of its protein content, but on a low heat in order to prevent cholesterol oxidisation. Your final concern should be added substances. Frying or baking an egg normally requires excess fat like butter or oil, which can add to the egg's already considerable calorie count.
The healthiest ways to eat eggs: Poached or boiled
Simple! When you fry or bake an egg, it's directly exposed to the source of the heat, in this case the frying pan or oven. You also have to add excess calories using oils or butter. Cooking eggs in water does so at a lower temperature and doesn't add anything else.
You can enjoy boiled eggs (hard or soft) on their own as a healthy snack or in quarters as a great addition to ramen or a salad. Poached eggs are a brunch staple, tasting amazing on top of whole-grain toast and avocado, the latter of which you can whizz up in one of our best blenders.
If you're frying accompaniments to your egg, like bacon and sausage (even if you shouldn't be eating too much processed meat) you can opt for the best air fryer to minimise added calories.
More healthy breakfast staple swap-outs
Bacon is a classic accompaniment to eggs, and it's important to have a high-protein way to start your day right. However, it's well-known processed meat is considered a carcinogen by the scientific community, with most of the calories from bacon coming from fat, rather than protein.
Alternatives like turkey bacon are generally lower in calories, but they remain high in sodium (opens in new tab), so it's unwise to eat any kind of bacon regularly. One portion a week is probably fine – a little of what you fancy here and there isn't going to hurt if you're generally eating quite healthily.
Likewise, the white bread you use in a bacon sandwich is high in simple carbohydrates, which deliver energy to your body quickly. That might sound beneficial, but unless you use up that energy in a very short period of time, the blood glucose will act like any other product with too much sugar in it, and contribute to obesity and diabetes.
For a breakfast high in protein and low-GI carbohydrates that release energy slowly, consider porridge oats mixed with some of the best protein powder for weight loss or best protein powder for women. Save that lovely bacon indulgence for the weekend.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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