When talking about the effects of certain foods and drinks on human health, the egg is probably the most contradictory one.
Some are convinced that eggs are bad for your heart. Others are absolutely sure they are great for the heart. Some say only eat the white, do not touch the yolk. Others say the yolk is great but avoid the white at all costs. Some think eggs are inflammatory, others tell you, on the contrary, eggs are anti-inflammatory.
There is a debate even among the researchers, they only seem to agree that more research is needed to fully understand how eggs interact with our body. They say things like “it might, or might not”, “it depends”, “we don’t know for sure”, etc.
What we know for sure, is that there are people who do experience symptoms after eating eggs. Coughing, chest, stomach, and back pain are the most common symptoms.
We try to shed some light on why eggs might or might not cause symptoms, but don’t expect definitive answers in this article, because we don’t know for sure. Actually, it depends…
Benefits of eating eggs
- egg yolks are nutritious, they contain a lot of vitamins, selenium, iron, iodine, and phosphorus
- eggs are great sources of protein, they contain all 9 essential amino acids
- eggs are good for your cholesterol level
- eggs can lower the triglyceride level
- eggs make you feel full for long, hence they are great for weight-loss
- eggs are good for your mental health – they reduce anxiety, symptoms of depression, and aid sleep
Because of these benefits, eggs became quite popular, until researchers identified a few potential (and debated) risks.
Risks of eating eggs
Please note: most of these risks are debated, we’ll go into further details below.
- people can be allergic to eggs
- eggs can be bad for the heart
- eggs are inflammatory
People might experience symptoms after eating eggs, such as:
Let’s take a closer look at each of these risks and symptoms:
Eggs and allergy
This is one of the few risks of eggs that is not debated. People can be allergic to eggs.
In fact, egg is among the eight foods that cause most food allergy reactions in the US, so egg allergy is not uncommon.
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology:
Experts estimate that as many as 2 percent of children are allergic to eggs. Fortunately, studies show that about 70 percent of children with an egg allergy will outgrow the condition by age 16.(source)
Typical food allergy symptoms are:
- runny nose
- itchy eyes
- chest pain
- stomach pain
Albeit unpleasant, most symptoms are fairly mild. However, swelling of the lips or tongue, breathing difficulties might indicate anaphylaxis, which is the most severe allergic reaction and requires immediate help!
Symptoms can occur anywhere between a few minutes and a few hours after eating eggs (or foods that contain eggs).
Baked eggs seem to help with the development of regular egg tolerance, however, be sure to talk to an allergist before adding baked eggs to your diet.
Egg intolerance is another adverse reaction to eating eggs. You can be intolerant to the whites, yolks, or both.
However, unlike allergy – which is caused by the immune system –, intolerance is a problem in the digestive tract.
The most important difference is that egg intolerance cannot cause as severe reactions as breathing problems or anaphylaxis.
Common food intolerance symptoms:
- stomach pain
- bloating, cramps
- chest pain
If you are intolerant to eggs, you should avoid eggs and everything that contains eggs. Some people might tolerate a small amount, though.
Are eggs inflammatory?
Looks like it depends. Studies suggest that eggs might have both pro- and anti-inflammatory effects.
According to a study by Fairfield University:
As presented above, the majority of research suggests that egg intake promotes a pro-inflammatory response in healthy adults [30,31], whereas the consumption of eggs in conditions of overweight , insulin resistance , metabolic syndrome [35,36], and T2DM [38,151] have either an anti-inflammatory or neutral effect.(source)
This seems to coincide with the findings of a study by the University of California Davis Medical Center.
Whether eggs cause inflammation or not probably depends on your overall health and the other foods you eat besides eggs.
Are eggs bad for the heart?
Because of its high cholesterol content, egg consumption used to be linked to cardiovascular problems.
Egg yolk contains around 200 mg of cholesterol. Since the daily recommended intake was around 300 mg, egg yolk is indeed high in cholesterol.
However, it turns out there is no evidence that dietary cholesterol affects the cholesterol in the blood (which can cause cardiovascular problems). This is why the Dietary Guidelines for Americans lifted the 300 mg/day limit on cholesterol.
What other problems can eggs cause?
Eggs contain some fat and are high in protein. This might trigger reflux episodes for people who are prone to acid reflux.
However, if you add a large piece of bacon to the eggs and fry them in oil or butter, it might be quite possible that it’s not the egg that triggers symptoms.
Some studies suggest that eggs can cause various problems in the digestive system.
According to this study, eggs might lead to gallbladder disease.
Now let’s move on to the most common symptoms egg consumption can cause:
Can eggs cause chest pain?
There are many health conditions associated with eggs that can trigger chest pain:
- Egg allergy: albeit chest pain is not a common allergy symptom.
- Egg intolerance: food intolerance might give you both chest and stomach pain.
- Acid reflux: chest pain is a common symptom of acid reflux. However, it might be that it is not the eggs that trigger reflux, but the other foods you eat with eggs.
- Heart problems: chest pain is a typical symptom of heart issues, like a heart attack or angina. If you eat eggs in moderation, it shouldn’t cause heart problems.
Stomach pain after eating eggs
Stomach pain is a common symptom for people with issues after eating eggs. Possible causes are:
- Egg allergy: stomach pain is not the most allergy symptom.
- Egg intolerance: food intolerance often causes stomach pain.
- Acid reflux: might cause upper stomach pain.
- Gallbladder problems: causes right side stomach pain, which can radiate to the entire right side of the body.
- Pancreatitis: causes stomach pain on the left side. Pain can radiate to other parts of the body.
Pain in other parts of the body after eating eggs
You might experience pain in various body parts after eating eggs:
Allergy can cause swelling anywhere in the body, which might trigger such pains.
Such pain is usually a referred pain, meaning the real cause of pain is somewhere else in the body.
Cardiovascular diseases tend to cause symptoms on the left side. Pain can radiate into the left shoulder, left arm, neck, jaw.
Pancreatitis also triggers symptoms on the left side. Left side chest pain, left shoulder, and left arm pain can indicate problems with the pancreas.
Gallbladder problems are common triggers of right side pain. Right side chest pain, right shoulder pain after eating is a typical symptom of gallbladder issues. People often experience pain in the right arm, right side of the neck, and around the right part of the rhomboid muscle in the back.
Acid reflux usually causes chest pain, but if it is unmanaged, it can cause shoulder and back pain in the long term.
Shortness of breath after eating eggs
Shortness of breath after eating is typically triggered by heart problems, food allergy, or acid reflux.
In the case of eggs, an allergy reaction is the most likely. The problem with this is that it might develop into anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency.
If eggs give you shortness of breath, stop eating them and see an allergist. If your symptoms are severe, get immediate medical help!
Eggs contain many beneficial nutrients. When eaten in moderation, they can be part of a healthy diet. Just make sure you don’t eat more than one per day or seven per week.
Egg allergy and intolerance are the only conditions when eggs should be avoided. If you don’t eat too many eggs and they trigger symptoms, get yourself tested.
Also, watch out for the other foods you eat with eggs. Many people like to eat eggs with fatty and oily foods, which might cause all kinds of symptoms, like chest or stomach problems.
Sharp chest or stomach pain after eating eggs might indicate a serious medical condition, it is recommended to contact your doctor right away in such cases.