Can Eggs Improve Cognitive Function? New Research Suggests They May
There are various reasons why you might want to start eating eggs every day if you don't already. They may reduce inflammation, help you build muscle, and give your immune system a boost. A recent study has also found that on top of benefiting your body, eggs might also be what your brain is craving thanks to the fact that they may improve cognitive function.
The study that was published in Nutritional Neuroscience involved 79 participants between the ages of 18 and 75 years old. Tests were conducted with the participants that evaluated cognitive function at different points during the trial.
The findings showed that while eating eggs—and, as a result, the egg protein hydrolysate NWT-03—did not seem to help the participants improve when it came to the psychomotor vigilance test, it was associated with better performance during the anti-cue reaction time test.
"This is a very interesting study because it dives deeper into the beneficial chemical makeup of eggs and how egg protein hydrolysate, which results from breaking down the egg protein, may be beneficial to health," Kiran Campbell, RD, tells Eat This, Not That! "It pinpoints the component NWT-03 hydrolysate as having the ability to improve cognitive function within the executive function domain. The executive function domain is responsible for one's self-regulation, creativity, attention span, reasoning, working memory, inhibitory control, and mental flexibility, among other brain functions."
"However, while the findings are positive and promising, it's difficult to say whether the benefits are strictly from the egg protein itself, as eggs have other components shown to benefit brain health and cognitive function," Campbell says. "This is specifically within the yolk of the egg. For years, we used to think consuming too many whole eggs, including the yolk which is rich in dietary cholesterol, is bad for health. However, over the past decade or more, we now know that one's blood level cholesterol has little to do with dietary intake of cholesterol."
"The egg yolk also contains valuable and health-promoting phytonutrients, such as choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These nutrients may also be associated with improved cognitive function according to several studies," Campbell adds.
At the same time, Campbell says that "while the research is promising, one should still focus on an overall healthy eating pattern that includes everything your body and brain need to function at optimum capacity. This includes a diet consisting of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, while limiting added sugars, and saturated and trans fats."
"How often you are fueling your body also matters tremendously when it comes to cognitive function," Campbell explains. "If you aren't supplying your brain with what it needs to function, you're going to feel sluggish, unable to focus, and have a difficult time concentrating on everyday tasks. By following a consistent daily meal pattern—which is typically breakfast, lunch, dinner, and maybe a snack or two—you can avoid depleting your body and brain of the nutrients it needs and avoid adverse events."