In the not-too-distant past, eggs were reviled as an unhealthy food source to be banished from diets due to high cholesterol levels; uttering that word conjures unhealthy thoughts for some people. However, you may be surprised to learn that eggs have tremendous benefits for your brain.
Eggs contain choline that helps fight memory loss by producing acetylcholine, a vital neurotransmitter regulating memory, intelligence, and mood. In addition, eggs contain folate, vitamin B6 and B12, Xanthophyll Carotenoids, and tryptophan that fight memory-related diseases.
Now that eggs are back from exile, we can deep-dive into the benefits of eggs for your brain, especially fighting memory loss. While you cannot put your brain on a treadmill, you can incorporate nutritious foods to keep your brain in peak condition. So, if you continue reading the article, we can almost guarantee you that you’ll want to reintroduce an egg a day for breakfast.
Do Eggs Fight Memory Loss
Eating whole eggs – yes, the yellow too – can provide some fantastic brain benefits that you may not have been aware of, including fighting memory loss.
For generations, science has proven that diet majorly impacts your physical health, brain function, and cognitive afflictions. Eggs are a powerful food that can dramatically improve cognitive functions.
The egg yolks contain a handful of essential nutrients that help improve your overall cognition, including memory regulation, decision-making, mental response rates, and mood.
The nutrients that help fight memory loss are:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Xanthophyll Carotenoids (Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin)
Choline Helps Fight Memory Loss
Eggs are jampacked with choline – a recently discovered essential nutrient – receiving more and more attention due to its brain-boosting qualities.
Although your liver naturally produces small amounts of choline, many people do not meet the recommended intake of this beneficial nutrient. So, you’ll need to incorporate it into your diet to avoid deficiency.
You require choline to produce acetylcholine, a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a critical role in reducing inflammation and maintaining a healthy nervous system by regulating memory, intelligence, and mood. In addition, choline is vital for the DNA synthesis process, which is essential for optimal brain function and development.
Studies link choline consumption and blood levels to improved brain function, particularly memory and processing. More so, a six-month study showed that giving early Alzheimer’s patients phosphatidylcholine improved their memory.
Several animal studies also suggest that choline supplements can improve fetal brain development during pregnancy.
As far as brain health goes, eggs – specifically the yolks – contain some of the highest concentrated choline sources in food associated with promoting brain function, including communication between the cells and maintaining memory.
Consider that the recommended choline intake is 425 mg and 550 mg daily for women and men, respectively. A single egg contains 112 mg of choline, supplying around 20 to 25% of your daily choline requirement. In comparison, two large eggs can provide up to half the recommendation.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that we associate eggs and choline intake with brain function and memory improvements.
Folate Helps Fight Memory Loss
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin found in eggs. It is an essential vitamin your body needs for a healthy developing nervous system that affects your cognitive function and mood regulation.
Researchers found that folate deficiency increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Therefore, including additional folate into your diet can help prevent or treat various cognitive diseases by producing and maintaining healthy brain cells. In addition, some studies on elderly individuals show that consuming excessive amounts of folic acid may help to decrease the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Other studies prove that increasing the consumption of folic acid had positive results in improving their memory tests scores. While more tests are needed to fully determine the effects of folate or folic acid on cognitive function, numerous clinical trials yield positive results.
Folate offers the following cognitive benefits:
- Improved memory
- Improved in cognitive function
- Improved information processing
- Minimizes or treats age-related mental issues
- Improved cognitive function in the elderly
Incorporating eggs into your diet is a delicious and natural way to boost your folate intake. One large egg packs 22 mg of folate, approximately 6% of the daily recommendation.
Vitamin B6 Helps Fight Memory Loss
Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, is one of eight water-soluble vitamins your body requires for several functions, like carbohydrate metabolism, red cell formation, and neurotransmitters.
Vitamin B6 plays an integral role in improving brain function and preventing or treating Alzheimer’s disease by decreasing the high homocysteine blood levels that trigger the risk of Alzheimer’s. However, it’s unclear whether the decrease in homocysteine improves brain function or slows the rate of cognitive impairments.
Consuming enough vitamin B6 is essential for optimal health and preventing or treating chronic diseases. But unfortunately, our bodies are unable to produce vitamin B6. So, we need to ensure that we obtain it through diet or supplementation.
A study conducted on adults with high homocysteine levels and mild cognitive impairment found that consuming high doses of B6, B12, and folate decreased homocysteine levels and reduced the wasting in numerous regions of the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin B6 also plays an essential role in mood regulation partly due to its ability to create neurotransmitters that regulate emotions like serotonin and dopamine. But, more so, this vitamin reduces depression symptoms by decreasing homocysteine levels.
Irrespective of how you cook eggs, two eggs per day provide around 10% of the recommended vitamin B6 daily value.
Vitamin B12 Helps Fight Memory Loss
Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to memory loss, especially in the elderly. Consuming sufficient vitamin B12 aids in preventing brain atrophy – the loss of neurons – associated with memory loss and dementia.
A study in individuals with early-stage dementia showed that the combo’s vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid supplements slowed the mental decline. However, a different study found that individuals with a vitamin B12 deficiency are more prone to poor memory performance.
European research shows that consuming high doses of vitamin B12 can decrease high homocysteine levels in adults with mild cognitive impairment, reducing the wasting in regions of the brain vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease.
Therefore, vitamin B12 may improve memory and cognitive function.
Eggs are an excellent source of vitamin B12. Two large eggs supply approximately 46% of the recommended daily value. In addition, research shows that the yolks contain higher vitamin B12 and the egg yolks are easier to absorb. So, we recommend consuming whole eggs.
Xanthophyll Carotenoids Helps Fight Memory Loss
The xanthophyll carotenoids Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin are major antioxidants that fight free radicals, boost cognitive function, and improve memory. A dietary supplement of these three carotenoids can potentially boost various cognitive parameters, including:
- Processing Speed
Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin lead to an increase in macula pigment optical density (MPOD) – a measure of Lutein in the eyes and brain – and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which plays an essential role in memory and learning.
Although Lutein is commonly referred to as the top “eye vitamin,” it offers numerous benefits from head to toe! Lutein has time and again proven to significantly benefit eye health by reducing age-related muscular degeneration and prolonging cataract onset. However, researchers also confirm that higher Lutein consumption may reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes, metabolic syndrome, and cognitive decline.
Recent studies show that Lutein is linked to excellent cognitive benefits, including long-term brain health and delayed onset of age-related cognitive declines like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Given the vitamin Lutein’s strong association with eye health, all of this brain talk and cognitive benefits might seem pretty strange. However, considering how tightly connected your eyes and brain are, it all starts to make perfect sense!
Lutein is richly deposited in your brain, contributing to why we see such a strong effect in the brain. In fact, Lutein generally takes up nearly 60% of the carotenoid content of your brain. So, it’s pretty apparent that the brain places a strong priority on accumulating Lutein as it protects the tissues and improves performance.
Lutein’s close “cousins,” Zeaxanthin and Meso-Zeaxanthin, also immerse themselves into the fatty cells of the brain. As a result, they improve composite and verbal memory, sustained attention, processing speed, and psychomotor speed.
According to studies on the eye, when your body combines these three carotenoids, they release potent antioxidant effects, becoming powerhouse vitamins with incredible benefits. For example, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin do not only have memory-enhancing effects, but they also improve overall cognitive function and slow down age-related diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Science proves that the result of supplementing with only 1 or 2 carotenoids versus all three will never be optimal. Fortunately, eggs contain all three antioxidants. A standard egg contains around 200 mcg Lutein in its yolk – the yellow pigment is in the yolk.
Lutein in eggs is up to three times more bioavailable than in veggies, making egg an excellent source of Lutein.
Tryptophan is a vital amino acid that your body cannot self-produce, so it needs to be obtained through your diet. This essential amino acid plays a critical role in serotonin production (a mood stabilizer), melatonin (regulates sleep patterns), niacin, and nicotinamide.
While tryptophan typically has the lowest concentration of amino acids in the body, it is vital for various metabolic functions that impact your mood, cognition, and behavior.
Serotonin circuits can play a vital role in cognitive performance, especially learning and memory. Cognitive impairment is common in depressed patients, in whom serotonin turnover is thought to be lowered. In addition, tryptophan depletion impairs long-term memory performance by delaying recall performance, recognition sensitivity, and recognition reaction times.
Tryptophan has a beneficial impact on:
- Mood Regulation
- Boosting Serotonin
- Fighting Depression
- Improving Learning
- Memory Skills
- Visual Cognition
Research finds that the protein in eggs significantly boosts the blood plasma levels of tryptophan amino acids. So, kickstarting your morning with eggs for breakfast gives you a boost of tryptophan.
One large egg contains 77 mg or 27% of the recommended daily intake of tryptophan, while the egg whites consist of about 41 mg.
Are Eggs Healthy?
While eggs offer numerous health benefits to the brain, yolks are known for their high cholesterol. A large egg generally contains 210 mg of cholesterol, more than half the recommended daily consumption value.
It seems like every couple of years, puzzling questions arise about the actual health benefits of these yummy meals in a shell. However, research shows that the cholesterol in eggs does not negatively affect the human body like other cholesterol sources.
Despite cholesterol’s longstanding and incredibly misunderstood reputation, it plays an essential role in brain health. Eggs raise HDL cholesterol (the good type) that our brains need to function correctly, so you can happily enjoy eating the whole egg!
An exhaustive study found that in the vast majority of individuals, the only people with a negative association between an increase in egg consumption and cardiovascular health were those with type 2 diabetes.
Although eggs are jampacked in healthy vitamins and antioxidants that boost your brain and overall health, scientists and nutritionists believe that you should consume everything in moderation.
Most healthy individuals can enjoy up to seven large eggs a week without adverse heart effects. However, if you prefer eating two eggs per serving, average out your week by limiting eggs to two or three times a week. In addition, you’ll want to avoid combining your breakfast eggs with other saturated foods like bacon, butter, and cheese.
Eggs are one of nature’s best nutrient sources, containing many bioactive compounds, which we only recently started appreciating. For example, eggs boost the concentration of brain-benefiting compounds like Choline, Folate, Vitamin B6 and B12, and Xanthophyll Carotenoids (Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin).
We hope this article gives more reason to feel good about incorporating eggs into your diet as long as you are eating them in moderation! However, keep in mind that you’ll want to ensure that you eat the whole egg as most of the nutrients that support memory and cognition lie within the yummy, deep yellow yolk.