Do you have a preference for eggs but wonder how they align with the dietary recommendations for PCOS? There’s some good news: Eggs are a valuable component of the diet for women with PCOS. Not only do they provide an excellent source of protein for meals and snacks, but they are also rich in nutrients that can benefit PCOS. Here’s what you need to know:
Eggs are considered a complete protein, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids necessary for maintaining muscles, eyes, nerves and tissues in our body. Most of this essential protein is found in the egg white. Additionally, the egg yolk offers a wealth of nutritional value, including omega-3 fats, iron, folate, vitamins A, D and E, thiamin and choline. It is also in the egg yolk where you’ll find lutein and zeaxanthin. These important carotenoids support eye health, including the management of dry eye syndrome.
With the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer emphasizing the limitation of dietary cholesterol (as it is no longer considered a “nutrient of concern,” whereas previously, it was recommended to keep cholesterol intake under 300 mg/day), eggs can be enjoyed without hesitation.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) stands as the most prevalent endocrine disorder affecting women during their reproductive years. Approximately 20% of women exhibit the characteristic appearance of polycystic ovaries on ultrasound scans. Among these 7- 8% display the additional clinical and biochemical features of PCOS itself. The prevalence of PCOS is anticipated to rise even further due to the ongoing obesity epidemic. Obesity increases the likelihood of women with polycystic ovaries developing the syndrome.
While polycystic ovaries often have no immediate clinical consequences, PCOS is frequently diagnosed in women who present with symptoms such as amenorrhoea, oligomenorrhea, or irregular and heavy menstrual periods. It is the leading cause of hirsutism and infertility attributed to anovulation. Women with PCOS experience elevated levels of circulating androgens. Androgens are strongly associated with insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, obesity, gestational diabetes, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Furthermore, PCOS is a recognized cause of endometrial hyperplasia, linking it to the risk of endometrial cancer. The short- and long-term implications of PCOS place a growing strain on healthcare resources.
An Overview of Eggs as a Nutrient-Rich Food
Eggs are a valuable source of essential minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and potassium, and contain moderate levels of sodium (approximately 142 mg per 100 g of whole egg). Furthermore, they encompass all indispensable trace elements, including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium and zinc. It’s worth noting that egg yolk plays a prominent role in the provision of iron and zinc. The presence of these minerals and micronutrients in eggs holds significant interest. Deficiencies in some of these elements (such as zinc, magnesium and selenium) have been linked to conditions like depression, fatigue and the development of pathological diseases.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Eggs: The Nutrient Powerhouse
Let’s start with the fact that eggs are jam-packed with a range of essential vitamins and minerals. An average serving of 2 eggs contains 82% of your daily vitamin D requirements 50% of your daily folate requirements. It also contains 25% of your daily riboflavin (vitamin B2) requirements and 40% of your daily selenium requirements. Eggs also contain useful amounts of vitamins A, E, B5 and B12, as well as iron, iodine and phosphorus.
Protein-Packed Eggs: Your Muscle’s Best Friend
Eggs are widely considered to be a valuable source of quality protein. Proteins are the building blocks of life, essential for the strength and repair of muscle and tissue. One single egg contains about 6.3 grams of protein. The powerful advantage of the protein in eggs links to the fact that eggs contain all nine essential amino acids — in sufficient amounts — to support effective muscle growth, recovery and maintenance. While some other foods contain proportionately more protein than eggs — the high quality and bioavailability of protein in eggs is truly second to none.
Eggs: The Heart-Healthy Choice
Eggs help increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels — or “good” cholesterol as it’s commonly known. And this is one reason why eggs have been found to have little to no effect on heart disease risk. It’s low-density lipoprotein (LDL) — or “bad” cholesterol — that can put heart health at risk. Meals high in saturated fats and trans-fats such as deep-fried take-away foods are the key culprits when it comes to increased risk levels of LDL cholesterol.
Eggs Provide A Great Source Of vitamin D
Egg yolks are one of a handful of foods that naturally contain vitamin D. And for almost all adults suffering from a mild or moderate vitamin D deficiency, the case for eggs is even more potent. A serving of two eggs provides 82% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin D — making them an all-important source of this essential vitamin. Sometimes called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus. This makes it essential for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D also aids in promoting healthy muscle function and immune system maintenance.
Eggs: Your Secret Weapon for Weight Management
Relatively low in calories and a rich source of quality protein, eggs are one of the best food options to assist with weight management. The high satiety levels of eggs lead to greater feelings of satisfaction, less hunger and a lower desire to eat later in the day. When you eat eggs you’ll be less inclined to reach for that midafternoon snack. Studies have found that eating eggs can make you feel full for longer by increasing levels of a hormone that helps you feel satisfied after eating.
Keeping energy levels higher, boosting metabolic activity and delaying the rate at which food leaves the stomach, eggs are packed full of high-quality protein. This makes them ideal as part of many different dietary patterns that can assist people in managing their weight. Consuming eggs can also help reduce variations in glucose levels, which can have great lasting benefits in regulating eating patterns.
Choline Champions: Eggs for Brain Health
Choline is an important nutrient that is made in the liver. But most people don’t produce enough choline to meet daily requirements. Which is why it also needs to be consumed through the food you eat. Similar to the function of B vitamins, choline is essential for normal cell functioning. It plays an influential role in brain and spinal cord development during pregnancy. It also helps in cognitive development in infants and also helps to reduce cognitive decline in the elderly. Until recently, the role of choline as part of a balanced diet had been largely overlooked. Eggs are a rich source of choline providing more than double the amount of choline per 100g than any other commonly eaten food. This makes eggs a highly effective and simple means of meeting your daily nutritional intake.
Omega-3 Boost: Eggs for Heart and Brain
Omega-3s are special types of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are a family of “essential fats” that play an important role in the way your cell membranes work. As your body produces a limited amount of Omega-3s on its own, it’s beneficial to actively consume them through various food sources. Eggs are mother nature’s incredible and edible source of Omega-3 fatty acids, providing on average, 180mg per serving (2 eggs). Of this amount, 114mg is the long-chain type of omega-3 fatty acid — which represents between 71-127% of the desired intake for adults. Oily fish is one of the best-known sources of omega-3s, however, for people who avoid or can’t eat fish, eggs are a particularly useful source for these healthy types of fats.
Eggs: Keeping an Eye on Your Health
Eggs contain a range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E and selenium which all act as important antioxidants in supporting eye health and retina function and helping counteract degenerative vision as you age. Eggs are rich in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which play a protective role in reducing the risk of certain eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Studies show that these antioxidants are also better absorbed by the body from eggs than from alternate plant sources.
Eggs: Fuelling Healthy Ageing
Eggs help boost nutrient intake for healthy ageing. Eggs are an accessible, economical and easily digestible source of excellent quality protein and essential vitamins and minerals — making them an ideal dietary inclusion for everyone. Easy to prepare, eggs are a simple means to increase nutrient intakes, in turn helping to reduce the risk of a wide range of deficiencies and conditions. They also contain a significant amount of leucine, an amino acid that is important for ongoing muscle support, as well as other key nutrients including vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, plus a little-known nutrient, choline, which is important for brain function.
Eggs: Your Mood-Boosting Breakfast
Eggs can support mental health. A balanced diet can go a long way toward supporting stress reduction and better mental health practices — both reducing the impact of symptoms and optimizing greater performance. And when it comes to the headstrong benefits of eggs — the combination of vitamin B2, B12, choline, iron and tryptophan are all associated with helping reduce the risk of anxiety, and symptoms of depression and naturally aiding sleep.
Are There Any Disadvantages?
- Eating eggs daily may lead to elevated levels of both beneficial and harmful cholesterol, potentially raising the risk of cardiovascular issues.
- Excessive egg consumption can contribute to weight gain due to their significant saturated fat content.
- Overindulging in eggs may also contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Debunking Myths About Eggs
MYTH 1: EGGS ARE HIGH IN CHOLESTEROL
For years, there has been a common belief that eating eggs can adversely affect your cholesterol levels. However, recent research has shown that eggs have a relatively modest impact on blood cholesterol levels. These findings suggest that incorporating eggs into your regular diet is generally safe, even for individuals at risk of heart disease. The primary culprits that have a negative impact on blood cholesterol levels are trans fats, saturated fats and simple sugars.
While eggs do contain a significant amount of cholesterol—211 milligrams per egg, accounting for 70% of the recommended daily cholesterol intake—this should not be a major cause for concern when it comes to heart health. What truly matters for your cardiovascular well-being is maintaining a diet that is low in trans fats and saturated fats.
MYTH 2: BROWN AND WHITE EGGS HAVE DISTINCT NUTRITIONAL PROFILES
Commonly, we associate brown-colored foods with being more healthful. For instance, whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice and other brown food items are often considered nutritionally superior to their white counterparts. However, this pattern doesn’t hold true when it comes to eggs. Research has shown that white eggs and brown eggs have nearly identical nutritional content and health advantages.
Despite brown eggs often being priced higher than white eggs, this cost difference doesn’t reflect any disparity in nutrient quality or nutritional value. The elevated cost of brown eggs is primarily because they are usually laid by larger chickens, which are more expensive to raise. Consequently, the choice between white and brown eggs ultimately comes down to personal preference, as there is no nutritional distinction between them.
MYTH 3: PREGNANT WOMEN SHOULD AVOID EGGS
Many pregnant women have come across the belief that they should steer clear of eggs during pregnancy due to concerns about the potential development of egg allergies in their babies. However, it’s important to note that no scientific evidence or research supports this misconception. Healthcare professionals recommend that pregnant women incorporate eggs into their diets.
Eggs are highly beneficial during pregnancy because they provide essential vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids. The only precaution pregnant women need to take is ensuring that they do not consume raw or undercooked eggs — a guideline that applies to everyone, not just pregnant individuals.
MYTH 4: RAW EGGS ARE SUPERIOR TO COOKED EGGS FOR HEALTH
Various notions circulate about the potential health benefits of consuming raw eggs. Some individuals ingest raw eggs to promote muscle growth, reduce stomach acid, or enhance their vocal capabilities. The chances of contracting salmonella from raw eggs are generally low, with only about 1 in 30,000 eggs typically being infected. The perceived benefits of raw egg consumption are largely unproven and exaggerated.
The human body does not efficiently digest raw egg whites in comparison to their cooked counterparts. Additionally, the absorption of biotin (vitamin B7) from raw eggs can be hindered. Although cooking eggs may alter their nutrient composition to some extent, it also substantially reduces the risk of salmonella contamination. Consequently, when it comes to safety, consuming cooked eggs is unquestionably a wiser choice than opting for raw eggs.
Tips for Incorporating Eggs Into a PCOS-Friendly Diet
Eggs offer a multitude of advantages. They are abundant in protein and serve as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are crucial for maintaining the health of muscles, eyes, nerves and tissues. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered a superfood for PCOS, as they contribute to improved fertility, hormonal regulation and the reduction of facial hair growth.
Another well-established benefit of egg consumption is its positive impact on weight management. Research indicates that losing between 5 to 10 percent of your total body weight can aid in regulating menstrual cycles and alleviating some PCOS symptoms. Incorporating one or two eggs into your daily diet could be a beneficial strategy. Whether you add them to your vegetable dishes or whip up an omelet, eggs can be your ideal meal companion.
Work With an Expert for a Customized Nutrition Plan
Dietitians not only design customized meal plans for their clients but also impart valuable education and guidance on making informed food choices. Your diet plays a pivotal role in managing and controlling illnesses. This makes it one of the most crucial aspects of your overall health. If you are dealing with a specific medical condition, a dietitian can collaborate closely with you and your medical team. They help you to create a dietary regimen that aligns with your medical requirements. Certain conditions, intolerances, allergies, or sensitivities can result in significant dietary limitations, often hindering the ability to maintain a well-balanced diet. In such cases, a dietitian can assist in navigating these restrictions. They do this by formulating an eating plan that addresses all your nutritional needs.
Learn More With Veera
Be it eggs or any other food item, our experts at Veera Health always advise you to know about the nutritional benefits of everything you eat. They also help you if you want to follow a PCOS-friendly diet. If you want to get efficient dietary tips from nutritionists you can take this simple diet quiz.