Nutrients in Eggs Important for Brain Health by Maggie Moon, MS, RD
The following is a sponsored article written by the Egg Nutrition Center – the science and nutrition education division of the American Egg Board.
There is a growing interest in neuronutrition, which examines how foods affect brain health. In fact, brain health claims have increased 36 percent on food products globally over the past five years. A common question consumers ask is whether eggs fit into a healthy diet for a healthy brain. The short answer is yes; the full answer begins with choline and lutein, two important nutrients for brain health. There are only a few foods that supply both. Eggs are one of them.
Choline is an essential nutrient for brain health because it plays a role in early brain development during pregnancy and infancy – particularly in areas of the brain that are used for memory and learning. There’s evidence that infants exposed to higher levels of maternal choline during the third trimester have an improved information processing speed during the first year of life – an indicator of cognition and intelligence!
Most Americans, including pregnant women, do not consume enough choline in their daily diet – but the good news is that a healthy eating pattern that includes eggs can supply adequate choline and other important nutrients. In fact, two whole eggs a day provide more than half of the choline most people need.
The antioxidant lutein has long been associated with eye health, but research has now discovered lutein’s role in cognition as well. Similar to how lutein accumulates in the eye, it is also present in the brain and has been shown to play a role in cognition in older adults, and in academic performance in children.
Recent research conducted by scientists at the University of Illinois looked at the relationship between brain lutein and cognition in children. Cognition was measured using a non-invasive eye test called Macular Pigment Optical Density (or “MPOD”). They found that MPOD concentration was positively associated with academic performance!
While you may not have heard of choline or lutein before, they are found in one of your kitchen staples – eggs. In fact, eggs are among the few foods that supply both choline and lutein – which are important for brain development, memory, and life-long learning.