CHAPTER 2: Eggs are a Natural Functional Food
Published:01 May 2019
Functional foods are characterized by containing nutraceuticals or compounds that are known to protect against chronic disease. Based on this definition, eggs are a natural functional food because they contain highly bioavailable carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, and they are a good source of choline. Lutein and zeaxanthin are potent antioxidants that have been shown to decrease systemic inflammation, fatty liver disease and atherosclerosis in animal studies. Further, clinical interventions and epidemiological data document the role of lutein and zeaxanthin in protecting against age-related macular degeneration and in decreasing inflammatory markers in plasma. Choline has been reported to protect against hepatic steatosis. Further, choline has a role as a neurotransmitter and has been shown to increase memory and protect against Alzheimer's disease. In addition, eggs are an excellent source of protein, with all the essential amino acids, which has been demonstrated to preserve muscle strength and decrease appetite. In this chapter, the evidence of eggs as a natural functional food is presented, as well as the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of their components, and their role in the prevention of chronic disease.