We live in a time where it’s critical to understand the consequences of what you put in your mouth.
That’s because so much of our modern diet is made up of toxic foods that promote inflammation.
And since inflammation is at the root of most chronic illnesses, avoiding these foods is paramount to good health.
For this reason, many people avoid eggs since they believe that they are one of these inflammatory foods.
On the other hand, eggs are loaded with many health-boosting nutrients and are even touted by some as a superfood.
The truth, like most things, is highly nuanced and demands more context than the black and white, healthy or not healthy claims.
In the following article, we’ll explore this context, and dive into the science of egg consumption to see if they do, in fact, cause inflammation.
So, are eggs inflammatory? Let’s find out.
What Is Chronic Inflammation?
Inflammation refers to the body’s immune response that helps our body identify and remove harmful stimuli.
The etiology of this long-lasting inflammatory response is:
- Presence of a persistent irritant
- The powerful, infectious agents can overcome the body’s defense and cause inflammation (pathogenic bacteria, viruses, etc.)
- Diseases or agents that trigger an autoimmune response
- Recurrent infection
Health Benefits of Eggs
Eggs are considered an absolute food because of the multiple health and nutritional benefits.
They have all nine essential amino acids our body needs; they are also -rich in omega-3 and vitamin A and E.
Consumption of eggs significantly increases plasma β-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, β-cryptoxanthin, and lycopene levels in the blood.2Christopher N Blesso, Catherine J Andersen, Bradley W Bolling, Maria Luz Fernandez, Egg intake improves carotenoid status by increasing plasma HDL cholesterol in adults with metabolic syndromeFood Funct. 2013
These are the anti-oxidants that play a critical role in preventing eye diseases for example.
Moreover, they reduce oxidative stress, apoptosis, mitochondrial problems, and inflammation, thus, reducing inflammation, allowing us to include eggs in the list of anti-inflammatory foods.3Fatima Tuj Johra, Asim Kumar Bepari, Anika Tabassum Bristy, and Hasan Mahmud Reza, A Mechanistic Review of β-Carotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin in Eye Health and DiseaseAntioxidants (Basel).2020
Egg yolks are also an important dietary addition for people with cardiovascular diseases as they have proven anti-atherosclerotic effects.4Shima Eftekhar, Heidar Parsaei, Zakieh Keshavarzi, Abbas Tabatabaei Yazdi, Mosa-Al-Reza Hadjzadeh, Aliakbar Rajabzadeh, and Sina Omid Malayeri, The prevention and treatment effects of egg yolk high density lipoprotein on the formation of atherosclerosis plaque in rabbitsIran J Basic Med Sci. 2015
Adding two boiled eggs to the diet also improves HDL levels by up to 10% in the blood.
HDL is also known as good cholesterol since it transports lipids from the peripheral blood vessels to the liver and thus promotes weight loss.5P Schnohr , O O Thomsen, P Riis Hansen, G Boberg-Ans, H Lawaetz, T WeekeEgg consumption and high-density-lipoprotein cholesterolJ Intern Med. 1994
Do Eggs Cause Inflammation in the Body?
Studies until now have been inconclusive about the effect of eggs on inflammation.6Zohreh Sajadi Hezaveh, Masoumeh Khalighi Sikaroudi, Mohammadreza Vafa, Zachary Stephen Clayton, Sepideh Soltani , Effect of egg consumption on inflammatory markers: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trialsJ Sci Food Agric. 2019
Eggs are rich in cholesterol, and hence they affect inflammatory markers positively in insulin-sensitive healthy individuals.8Lisa R Tannock , Kevin D O’Brien, Robert H Knopp, Barbara Retzlaff, Brian Fish, Mark H Wener, Steven E Kahn, Alan Chait, Cholesterol feeding increases C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A levels in lean insulin-sensitive subjectsCirculation. 2005
On the other hand, eggs promote either anti-inflammatory or completely neutral responses in varying health conditions like excess weight, metabolic syndrome, and type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
Eggs cause inflammation in healthy insulin-sensitive individuals; however, the results are opposite in insulin-resistant ( type 2 diabetic ) patients.10Robert H Knopp , Barbara Retzlaff, Brian Fish, Carolyn Walden, Shari Wallick, Melissa Anderson, Keiko Aikawa, Steven E Kahn, Effects of insulin resistance and obesity on lipoproteins and sensitivity to egg feedingArterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2003
Components of Eggs and Their Effects
- Phospholipids: Pro and anti-inflammatory
- Cholesterol: Promote inflammation
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin: Anti-inflammatory
- Egg Proteins: Mostly anti-inflammatory but show pro-inflammatory effects in some individuals
Eggs And Inflammation in Healthy vs. Unhealthy Individuals
Nutrition studies are the worst. They simply cannot account for the overall context of a person’s diet.
The great egg debate is the perfect example.
Some studies show that increased consumption of eggs in healthy individuals is indeed inflammatory.11Lisa R Tannock , Kevin D O’Brien, Robert H Knopp, Barbara Retzlaff, Brian Fish, Mark H Wener, Steven E Kahn, Alan Chait, Cholesterol feeding increases C-reactive protein and serum amyloid A levels in lean insulin-sensitive subjectsCirculation. 2005
However, this inflammation depends upon the number of eggs you consume daily.
Four times a week, two eggs per day, do not induce inflammation. However, four eggs per day, four times a week, cause a significant rise in inflammation.12Catherine J. Andersen,Christopher N. Blesso,Jiyoung Lee,Maria Luz Fernandez, Egg intake increases peripheral blood mononuclear cell expression of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 in parallel with toll-like receptor 4 as a potential mechanism to reduce cellular inflammation in metabolic syndromeFaseb journal. 2013/mfn] On the other hand, in metabolic syndrome and diabetic patients, consuming 1 to 4 eggs per day four times a week showed a significant decrease in inflammatory markers.12Martha Nydia Ballesteros , Fabrizio Valenzuela , Alma E Robles , Elizabeth Artalejo , David Aguilar , Catherine J Andersen , Herlindo Valdez , Maria Luz Fernandez , One Egg per Day Improves Inflammation when Compared to an Oatmeal-Based Breakfast without Increasing Other Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Diabetic PatientsNutrients. 2015
Why would this be? My guess is that everyone is different.
Also, call me crazy, but I imagine that most people consuming eggs also consume other foods.
Four eggs a day with a green salad and eating fruits seems like a good recipe to reduce inflammation.
If you eat four eggs a day with a bunch of processed meat and potato chips cooked in trans fats, you will have a much higher inflammatory response.
Fatty Liver Disease
A good example of this is non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder (NAFLD).
Some studies show that eggs are associated with being a cause of NAFLD.
One study showed that individuals with increased eggs in their diet were seen to be more prone to NAFLD on long-term observation, as compared to individuals who consumed lesser eggs.13Zeinab Mokhtari , Hossein Poustchi , Tannaz Eslamparast , Azita Hekmatdoost, Egg consumption and risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseaseWorld J Hepatol. 2017
Another case-control study on 169 NAFLD patients concluded that consuming three eggs a day increases inflammation and a subsequent chance of NAFLD by 3.56 times.14Zeinab Mokhtari, Hossein Poustchi, Tannaz Eslamparast, and Azita Hekmatdoost, Egg consumption and risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseaseWorld J Hepatol. 2017
But again, these studies don’t take into account the consumption of other certain foods that are a risk factor for NAFLD like refined carbs and calories from artificial trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.
Anti Inflammatory Benefits of Eggs
When it comes to anti-inflammatory effects, eggs predominantly have a high content of both lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are great anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Lutein has a high anti-inflammatory activity against age-related macular degeneration and also possesses anti-oxidant effects.15Catherine J. Andersen, Bioactive Egg Components and InflammationNutrients. 2015
Eggs are a source of Vitamin D, which helps in anti-inflammatory responses in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s Disease)
Proteins are an essential component of the diet; however, those with IBD need to choose to be more discerning with food choices.
This is great news since some animal protein and processed meat options are linked with the enhancement of inflammation.17Prévost Jantchou, Sophie Morois, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Marie-Christine Boutron-Ruault, Franck Carbonnel, Animal protein intake and risk of inflammatory bowel disease: The E3N prospective studyAm J Gastroenterol. 2010
Of course, it’s always important to recognize the full context of a person’s diet and the other inflammatory foods it may contain along with the animal proteins.
There’s also a major difference in nutrient profiles between eggs and many processed meats.
Metabolic syndrome is a group of 5 metabolic risk factors that leave the individual increasingly susceptible to conditions like heart disease, raised blood sugar, joint pain, blood pressure, and Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.18nhlbi, What Is Metabolic Syndrome?nhlbi.2022
In metabolic syndrome patients, eggs fight inflammation by increasing the expression of PBMC (peripheral blood mononuclear cell).19FASEB JOURNAL, Egg intake increases peripheral blood mononuclear cell expression of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 in parallel with toll-like receptor 4 as a potential mechanism to reduce cellular inflammation in metabolic syndromeFASEB JOURNAL. 2013
Conclusive results prove that consumption of whole eggs increases HDL profile and reduces VLDL levels in the blood, which is helpful in the improvement of atherogenic dyslipidemia.20Christopher N Blesso , Catherine J Andersen, Jacqueline Barona, Jeff S Volek, Maria Luz Fernandez, Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndromeMetabolism. 2013
In addition, egg consumption also improves cholesterol and fatty acids tolerance of the blood serum in metabolic syndrome.21Catherine J Andersen, Christopher N Blesso, Jiyoung Lee, Jacqueline Barona, Dharika Shah, Michael J Thomas, Maria Luz Fernandez, Egg consumption modulates HDL lipid composition and increases the cholesterol-accepting capacity of serum in metabolic syndrome Lipids. 2013
Type 2 Diabetes
Uptake of eggs has a surprisingly effective result in increasing insulin sensitivity levels.22Christopher N Blesso , Catherine J Andersen, Jacqueline Barona, Jeff S Volek, Maria Luz Fernandez, Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndromeMetabolism. 2013
Additionally, eggs also contribute to notably reducing insulin resistance in cells, thus decreasing the risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.
In prediabetic and DM type 2 patients, eggs cause a significant reduction in fasting glucose levels.23Shirin Pourafshar , Neda S Akhavan, Kelli S George, Elizabeth M Foley, Sarah A Johnson, Behnam Keshavarz, Negin Navaei, Anis Davoudi, Elizabeth A Clark, Bahram H Arjmandi Egg consumption may improve factors associated with glycemic control and insulin sensitivity in adults with pre- and type II diabetesFood Funct. 2018
While modernity has brought us convenience, especially in regards to food, it’s subsequently delivered higher levels of inflammation.
For many people, simply swapping out the parts of their diet that cause inflammation for healthier, non-inflammatory calories can be the difference between thriving and chronic diseases.
The most simple advice is to avoid foods sold in the middle of the grocery store and focus on those on the perimeter.
This helps you avoid unhealthy foods like ultra-processed foods and processed meats, packaged foods, salad dressings, and sugary/starchy snacks.
By following this you’ll easily cut out those food items that are loaded with highly inflammatory ingredients such as trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and refined carbohydrates.
On the other hand, you’ll start getting more anti-inflammatory whole foods which lead to an overall healthy lifestyle.
It’s also a good idea to avoid fast-food restaurants since these serve mostly fried foods (Eg. french fries) and even prepared asian food, since msg is a major contributor to inflammation.
Certain foods to seek out include:
- Healthy fats (including Omega 3 fatty acids, olive oil, and saturated fat)
- Red meat (I know, you’re doctor won’t agree)
- Organic fruits and vegetables.
Top 10 Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
Below is a shortlist of foods that increase inflammation.
Inflammatory foods exert an increased risk of unwanted effects like an inflammatory response, raised blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
These are foods that increase the risk factor for simple, relatively benign reactions in the short term, but in the long term can build to more long-term inflammation which can snowball into serious conditions like cardiovascular disease, stomach, and colon cancer.
Like anything else in nutrition, bio-individuality is key. While this list is my personal recommendation, everyone has their own personalized responses to different nutrients.
While someone may eat wheat and experience a gluten sensitivity, others may not have that specific inflammatory marker.
Steer clear of these foods if you want to avoid any increased inflammatory markers and risks associated with inflammatory foods.
- Sugary, Processed Foods – Excessive sugar intake
- Artificial Trans Fats
- Vegetable Oil and Seed Oils (grapeseed, rapeseed, corn oil)
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Fast Foods
- Processed, refined grains and refined carbs (flours), bread, pasta – Gluten
- High Oxalate Foods – Spinach, nuts, kale, almond milk, etc
- High Lectin Foods
Supplements and Biohacks to Lower Inflammation
Below are a few simple lifestyle hacks to help you reduce inflammation.
Gut Health – Probiotics
Inflammation starts with gut health since most of your immune system lives on your Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue.24Urs M. Mörbe, Peter B. Jørgensen, Thomas M. Fenton, Nicole von Burg, Lene B. Riis, Jo Spencer & William W. Agace, Human gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT); diversity, structure, and functionPublished. 2021
Adding gut-friendly bacteria to your gut microbiome, like those found Probiotics are some of the most potent anti inflammatory compounds you can use.25JeanFioramontiDr Sci(Research Director)VassiliaTheodorouPhD(Research Scientist)LionelBuenoDr Sci(Research Director), Probiotics: what are they? What are their effects on gut physiology?Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology. 2003
Probiotics are also associated with aiding in weight loss and improved metabolism.26Matthias Van Hul et al, Comparison of the effects of soluble corn fiber and fructooligosaccharides on metabolism, inflammation, and gut microbiome of high-fat diet-fed miceAmerican Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 2020
Gut Health – Digestive Enzymes
Like the aid you get from probiotics, using digestive enzymes to help with digestion can also exert anti inflammatory effects.
This is due to the more complete breakdown of food which aids your GI tract’s ability to better process food without the irritability caused by unbroken down food particles.27Mary E Money, Jaroslaw Walkowiak, Chris Virgilio, Nicholas J Talley, Pilot study: a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial of pancrealipase for the treatment of postprandial irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhoea Frontline Gastroenterol. 2011
Consuming a good digestive enzyme supplement, like Masszymes, before or during a meal greatly aids your overall digestive process, lowers inflammation, and slows weight gain.
Gut Health – HCL
I cannot understate the importance of excellent gut health to lower inflammation.
Having adequate stomach acid levels is another crucial aspect of proper digestion, and the truth is that many people, especially those eating unhealthy foods, are dealing with stomach acid dysregulation.
You may know this as acid reflux or GERD and its actually a sign of too LITTLE acid and not too much as commonly thought.
A proper HCL (hydrochloric acid) supplement like HCL Breakthrough is the most effective way to rehab your stomach acid levels and provide thorough digestion, which means lower gut distress and lower inflammation.
Red Light Sauna
Red light saunas are associated with multiple health benefits, e.g., pain relief and weight loss.
They create temporary hormesis, a type of metabolic stress given in low doses to the cells that increase the cell’s mitochondrial efficacy.28ROSEMARY CASHEW FOCACCIA, Boost Immune System, Balance Hormones, Mood, and Rejuvenate Skin with Red and Near Infrared Lighthormonesbalance. 2018
As your cells become more efficient at producing energy, they better detoxify, which naturally lowers inflammation.
Red light Saunas are also inversely related to blood serum C reactive protein levels, a key indicator of systemic inflammation.29Jari A. Laukkanen & Tanjaniina Laukkanen , Sauna bathing and systemic inflammationEuropean Journal of Epidemiology. 2018
Cannabidiol or CBD exhibits vast anti-inflammatory properties.
According to studies, CBD prevented lipopolysaccharide-induced vasodilation and any associated leukocyte margination.30Lourdes Ruiz-Valdepeñas, José A Martínez-Orgado, Cristina Benito, África Millán, Rosa M Tolón & Julián Romero, Cannabidiol reduces lipopolysaccharide-induced vascular changes and inflammation in the mouse brain: an intravital microscopy studyJournal of Neuroinflammation volume 8, Article number. 2011
In research done on mice, CBD enhances the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which is a sign of lowered inflammation.31Lourdes Ruiz-Valdepeñas, José A Martínez-Orgado, Cristina Benito, África Millán, Rosa M Tolón & Julián Romero, Cannabidiol reduces lipopolysaccharide-induced vascular changes and inflammation in the mouse brain: an intravital microscopy studyJournal of Neuroinflammation volume 8, Article number. 2011
Turmeric has always been considered a traditional herbal medicine due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.
Curcumin, its active component, lowers inflammation by reducing histamine levels, a pro-inflammatory substance.32TP Chaturvedi, Uses of turmeric in dentistry: An updateIndian Journal of International Research. 2009
It is also responsible for increasing the secretion of cortisone from adrenal glands, a hormone well known for fighting inflammation.
Nootropic Mushrooms have been vastly used in Chinese medicine to promote brain activity and growth.
Reishi Mushroom is a potent anti-inflammatory medicinal mushroom.
1 specific study showed its ability to reduce inflammatory markers in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease and suppress the growth of adenomas.33 Mark Sisson, 4 Mushrooms You Need To KnowMark’s Daily Apple. 2022
On the other hand, the Chaga mushroom has been known to reduce DNA damage in humans and has anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer effects.34Yangpeng Lu, Yanan Jia, Zihan Xue, Nannan Li, Junyu Liu, and Haixia Chen, Recent Developments in Inonotus obliquus (Chaga mushroom) Polysaccharides: Isolation, Structural Characteristics, Biological Activities and ApplicationPolymers (Basel). 2021
As you can see, trying to pin eggs to inflammation is tricky.
There’s so much bad science that one cannot get a real understanding of eggs’ true effects on health and inflammation.
I find for me that eggs are a superfood that do in fact fight inflammation. For others with a not-so-optimized diet, that might not be the case.
The best way to know is to consume them yourself and see how they make you feel.
Hold your other dietary variables constant, ie don’t change your diet, and then after a few months check your blood work and inflammatory markers
That’s the most scientific, full-proof way you’ll get your answer.