When it comes to healthy eating, eggs can be a great source of protein, vitamin A, magnesium and vitamin D. However, they also carry a load of cholesterol, and 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.
So what's the healthiest way to cook eggs, so you get as many benefits and as few downsides as possible?
- Fitness gifts: 50 best buys to give this Christmas
- The best supplements for joints: Fight pain, swelling and inflammation now
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. 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, 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.