Any mama will tell you that getting an infant to eat any type of food is an Olympic sport. Sure, your baby will scarf down that can of pureed peas, but the next week, they’ll spit it out. It can make mealtime a messy, mind-bending affair.
Well here’s some good news for the foodie mamas among us: If your little one loves scrambled eggs—GO WITH IT—because new research has found that eating one egg a day may be key to better brain development and function for infants.
A new American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study discovered that eggs may provide babies with critical nutrients that help boost brain development and function. The findings, based on a randomized, controlled trial conducted in Ecuador in 2015, showed that infants who ate one egg a day starting at 6 months old had significantly higher blood concentrations of two essential nutrients good for brain development: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid that's a structural component of the brain and is essential to brain growth and function; and choline, a vitamin-like nutrient that helps with muscle control and memory.
The study’s lead author, Lora Iannotti, associate dean for public health and associate professor at the Brown School at Washington University, says of the results, “Like milk or seeds, eggs are designed to support the early growth and development of an organism and are, therefore, dense in nutrient content.”
It’s no wonder that eating one egg a day could boost a baby’s brain development and overall health. According to nutrition experts, eggs are a rich, all-natural source of 13 vitamins and minerals important not only to brain growth and function, but also eye health, pregnancy, muscle strength, healthy bones, heart health and so much more. In addition to choline and DHA, eggs contain vitamins A, D, and E, B vitamins, calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, selenium and the antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin. And the “bio-available” nature of eggs, the study’s authors note, makes them a particularly effective way to your baby’s body access to nutrients “crucial in neurodevelopment and growth.”
Even pediatric health experts have of late been touting the benefits of eating eggs. After years of discouraging egg consumption due to fear of infant allergy, in 2013 the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology organization actually recommended that parents (in consultation with their doctors) consider introducing eggs after baby turns six months. For most children, the research suggests, earlier introduction of potential allergens like eggs can actually prevent more severe allergies from developing. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing eggs into your baby’s diet within a few months of starting solid foods. When you feed your infant eggs, though, make sure they are scrambled, soft and cut into pieces in order to prevent choking.
But eggs aren’t only a great source of nutrients essential to your health; they’re also light on your wallet. Iannotti notes that eggs are rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals at levels comparable to those found in meat and fish. But, she adds, unlike animal products, eggs are “relatively more affordable.”
In other words: Eggs can boost your health at more than half the cost.
“Eggs have been consumed throughout human history,” Iannotti continues, “but the full potential of this nutritionally-complete food has yet to be recognized.”
Eggs: It’s what’s for dinner. (And breakfast. And lunch.)