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Eating Eggs Might Make You Want to Help Poor People

It's no secret that the egg is an edible wonder, packed with many of the nutrients required for human health. But recent research suggests that a bit of egg in your diet might make you a little less of a miser, too.
Photo via Flickr userJon Mountjoy

Selfish scrooges of the world, start eating omelets. Recent research suggests that a bit of egg in your diet might make you a little less of a miser.

It's no secret that the egg is an edible wonder, packed with nearly an entire alphabet of vitamins and minerals, unsaturated fats, and all the essential amino acids required for human health.

One of those amino acids, l-tryptophan, is a a biochemical precursor for serotonin—one of the neurotransmitters believed to regulate feelings of well-being, and the one that floods your brain when you're tripping balls on Molly at a Diplo show.


Researchers at the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition in The Netherlands decided to investigate serotonin's role in what they considered "one of the most important elements of prosocial behavior, charity" by dosing volunteers with the amount of l-tryptophan normally contained in a serving of three eggs.

After being given the l-tryptophan—which is also found in fish, soy, and milk—the volunteers were then asked to rate their mood and then "paid" ten euros each (in varying denominations) for their participation in the study. They were given the opportunity to contribute to any that money to four charity boxes—Unicef, Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and World Wildlife Fund—which all had a little bit of money in them to encourage the giving impulse.

The researchers found that the l-tryppers donated twice as much as the placebo group, which pocketed most of the money for themselves. The good news is that all of the money that was donated did end up in each charity's coffers.

The researchers aren't clear on exactly how l-tryptophan and serotonin make people more inclined to give, but they believe it may also have something to do with the "cuddle hormone" oxytocin.

Admittedly, the study's sample size was quite small (and also included a disproportionate number of female participants). But the researchers note: "Our results support the materialist approach that 'you are what you eat' … the idea that the food one eats has a bearing on one's state of mind."

An extra serving of eggs Benedict each week certainly couldn't hurt you. (Maybe it's the eggs and not just that sweet Bloody Mary that helps you feel better during your hungover brunch.) But what about the larger implications of happy eggs?

The Independent quoted Dr. Adam Perkins of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, who said that prisons should take note of the study, as "food supplements containing TRP might help increase harmony among inmates."

Flop two, over easy, Cellblock Three.