Once thought not to be that healthy (i.e. high in cholesterol), eggs have enjoyed a renaissance in the past decade or so. These natural foods are rich in nutrients and protein, and can help you feel full longer. A new study found that eggs may be even better than we thought. They may contain antioxidants that could fight disease, and could then enter the healing foods category.

Eggs are known to be an excellent source of proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals. Now researchers found that they contain antioxidant properties, which help prevent heart disease and cancer. The study was published in the journal “Food Chemistry.”

Researchers examined egg yolks produced by hens fed typical diets of either primarily wheat or corn. The yolks contained two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, which have high antioxidant properties. The researchers determined that two raw egg yolks have almost twice as many antioxidant properties as an apple and about the same as half a serving of cranberries.

Rocky may have had it right when he downed the glass of raw eggs, because the researchers found that, when the eggs were fried or boiled, the antioxidant levels dropped by about half. Still, this leaves it close to the same as apples in terms of their antioxidant value.

The discovery of these two amino acids in eggs, while important, may only signify the beginning of finding antioxidant properties in egg yolks. They are going on to try to map all the antioxidants in egg yolks, as well as the carotenoids (yellow pigment) in egg yolks.

In previous research, the team found that egg proteins were converted by enzymes in the stomach and small intestines and produced peptides that act the same way as ACE inhibitors, prescriptions drugs that are used to lower high blood pressure.

That finding defied common wisdom and contradicted the public perception that eggs increased high blood pressure because of their high cholesterol content. The researchers firmly believe that, when future research is completed, we will uncover an entire range of antioxidants in egg yolk.

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