Are eggs inflammatory? The short answer, for most people, is no. In fact, a review of 21 clinical studies concluded that eggs do not increase any marker of inflammation in our bodies. Impressively, eggs may do the opposite: reduce inflammation.
But, some eggs are better than others and there are some exceptions to the rule. So let’s take a look at the best eggs to eat if you are concerned about inflammation.
Are Eggs Inflammatory?
Most people can freely enjoy eating eggs without any concern for inflammation. In fact, eggs can be anti-inflammatory, especially if you choose healthy pastured eggs.
Pastured eggs have less inflammatory fats known as omega-6 fats than do conventional eggs.
Interestingly, eating an egg per day reduced inflammation in people with Type 2 diabetes compared to a breakfast of oatmeal cooked with lactose-free milk in one research study. Egg consumption also decreased belly fat in people with diabetes according to this study: and belly fat is a major cause of harmful inflammation in the body.
Another small study found that eating two boiled eggs a day improved the gut microbiome and did not cause an increase in any inflammatory compounds, including TMAO. Having a more diverse gut microbiome and beneficial bacteria helps dampen inflammation in the body.
There is some concern that eggs can increase the risk of having fatty liver disease. However, research shows that if you adjust for other lifestyle factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, any risk of eating eggs and liver issues disappears.
Are Eggs Anti-Inflammatory Then?
Egg yolks contain a lot of anti-inflammatory compounds in them, such as:
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fatty acids
Because of these antioxidants, eggs can help reduce inflammation in the body. In one research study of healthy men, eating an egg 4 times a week reduced inflammatory compounds in the body and even reduced LDL cholesterol levels over a 4-week period.
Eating eggs can increase antioxidant production in the body too. For example, glutathione, a strong antioxidant, may be increased in the body due to eating egg whites and egg yolks. The protein in eggs can increase a powerful antioxidant in the body called superoxide dismutase as well.
Surprisingly, eating two eggs per day resulted in an increase in healthy HDL cholesterol, or good cholesterol, by 10% in one clinical study. All the while there was no increase in unhealthy LDL cholesterol or triglycerides either.
And it is important to eat the yolk: this is where most of the antioxidants that help dampen inflammation are located. However, the proteins in the egg white are immuno-protective and can be anti-inflammatory too.
How to Cook Eggs to Reduce Inflammation
Eating cooked eggs have less potential to cause allergic reactions and cooked eggs are much more digestible than raw eggs.
But, the method that you use to cook your eggs can affect how healthy they are.
Cooking eggs at low temperatures helps to preserve the antioxidants in eggs. For this reason, you should try to boil or poach eggs when possible. You can also bake them for a short period of time to help preserve the anti-inflammatory compounds.
If you do fry eggs, it is best to serve them over easy and avoid cooking them with inflammatory oils. Your best bet is to cook them in extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, or grass-finished butter which contains their own antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Also, you should fry them at lower temperatures to avoid oxidation.
How to Buy the Healthiest Eggs
The best eggs to purchase are pasture-raised eggs whenever possible. This means that chickens are raised on grass and natural food that help their eggs to be much richer in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds than those who are even “free range” or organically raised.
According to Certified Humane, pastured eggs contain:
- 2 times as many anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids
- 4 times as much vitamin E
- 3 times as much vitamin D
- 7 times as much beta carotene as conventionally raised eggs.
For clarification, here are the most common kinds of eggs you will find in the stores today and which are best.
Best Types of Eggs to Reduce Inflammation
Shopping for eggs can be confusing, to say the least. Here are some of the terms you will see on labels and what they mean.
Conventionally raised eggs are typically raised by caged chickens with conventional feed which is often grains and soy. Usually, these eggs will not have any health claims on the label. Still, eating conventionally-raised eggs is a better option than other inflammatory foods if this is your only option.
Free-range eggs: chickens have the option to go outside, but may never end up outside because they tend to stay near their feed. These can be dirty conditions and can be inflammatory feed that the chickens receive.
Cage-free eggs mean that they don’t have a cage but can still be overcrowded and they still likely don’t go outside. It doesn’t tell you anything about what the chickens are fed.
Organic eggs are raised by free uncaged chickens that have access to outdoors and are fed 100% organic feed.
Pastured eggs are free-roaming chickens that are outside and forage for food. Although there is no certification yet for this kind of egg, you will typically see pastured eggs labeled as Certified Humane. Not surprisingly, these eggs are the most nutritious and you will be able to see this by the richly-colored yolks.
Omega-3 eggs are chickens that are fed foods that enhance the omega-3 content of the eggs, but they may still reside in very unhealthy conditions.
When to Avoid Eggs
If you have an allergy or sensitivity to eggs, you should avoid eating them. Egg allergies are sadly on the rise as are all food allergies.
When an allergy to food occurs the body creates an inflammatory response. So it is important to avoid eggs if you notice that you feel sick in any way after eating them. Egg inflammation symptoms in this case can include joint pain, and gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, and nausea.
Inflammatory Foods to Avoid
As you can see, eating eggs is overall a very healthy food to eat for most people. But you should avoid eating them with other inflammatory foods to reap the most health benefits of eggs. Sadly, an inflammatory diet in the United States is the norm.
Diseases related to inflammation include heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, depression, joint pain, and gut issues of all kinds. By the way, eggs may decrease the risk of heart disease according to a very large observational study.
To reduce joint inflammation and chronic inflammation overall, you should limit or avoid processed or refined sugar, grains, and oils in foods like:
- Fried foods of all kinds
- Most crackers
- Conventionally raised meats, including red meat and chicken
- Condiments and dressings
- Most alcoholic drinks
You should also avoid foods with preservatives and additives-these contribute to inflammation and disease as well.
Are organic eggs inflammatory?
No. Organic eggs are usually higher in anti-inflammatory compounds than conventional eggs. So organic eggs are second best to pasture-raised eggs for reducing inflammation.
Are eggs bad for arthritis inflammation?
Most studies indicate that eggs reduce inflammatory markers in the blood when combined with a lower carbohydrate diet. However, if you are sensitive or allergic to eggs, your body will mount an inflammatory response against eggs. This makes them unhealthy for you in this case.
Do eggs cause inflammation in joints?
Not unless you are allergic or sensitive to them. Most people outgrow egg sensitivities by adulthood, however.
Why do eggs cause inflammation in people with egg allergies or egg sensitivities?
Both food allergies and sensitivities cause a temporary rise in inflammation in the body. The body has elevated histamine levels and an overactive immune response during an allergic reaction.
Are omega-3 eggs more anti-inflammatory than conventional eggs?
Yes. If you have the choice of omega-3 eggs, they are better for you than conventional eggs. Pastured eggs are still the best option overall due to their high antioxidant content.
Should people with high cholesterol avoid eggs?
Generally, eggs help improve people’s cholesterol ratio, so they do not need to be avoided by most people. Even Harvard Health reports that eggs do not raise cholesterol or heart disease risk when eaten daily.
If I have fatty liver disease can I eat eggs?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is more common than ever, and the main causes are thought to be an increase in processed foods like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, and refined grains according to the Journal of Hepatology. Having diabetes also increases your risk of fatty liver disease. Eggs, on the other hand, are nutritious and may reduce chronic inflammation, even in the liver. But be sure to limit your processed carbohydrate intake alongside eggs. In other words, skip the bagel or English muffin and serve them with healthy veggies instead.
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.
The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body and is shared for educational purposes only. While The Healthy RD’s posts are backed by research, you are unique, so you must seek care from your own dietitian or healthcare provider. This post is not meant to diagnose or treat any conditions. Consult your doctor or healthcare provider before making changes to your supplement regimen or lifestyle.