What Are Eggs?
An egg is a single cell inside a hard shell that is laid by a bird. Unfertilized eggs, or those that are not set aside for hatching, are the ones you'll find most commonly in grocery stores.
All over the world, eggs from different birds are popular, including ducks, turkeys, geese, and quail. Most of the eggs produced in the U.S. and Europe come from chickens.
They're much more than a staple breakfast food: eggs are packed with nutrients and offer many health benefits.
Are Eggs Good For You?
Yes, they're generally good for you. Eggs provide many vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. But they're also high in cholesterol, so the amount of eggs that are okay to have can depend on your health.
The yolk in eggs can increase the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol in your blood. Studies show a link between eating eggs and heart disease; however, others show that eating one egg a day does not impact heart disease risk if you're healthy, and the impact eggs can have on cholesterol level is less than the impact fats in your diet can have.
If your cholesterol level is good and you don't have cardiovascular disease, it's okay to have one whole egg a day. The American Heart Association suggests that one egg (or two egg whites) a day is part of a healthy diet.
If you have cardiovascular disease or high cholesterol, you should limit the amount of eggs you eat per week to about three or four. If you have diabetes, you should also pay attention to the amount of cholesterol in your diet. People with diabetes are more prone to have higher cholesterol levels.
To enjoy eggs and get many of the health benefits without the high cholesterol, you can try egg whites, mixing egg whites with an egg, or being careful about the foods you eat with eggs and the way they're prepared. Keep in mind that when you take away the yolk, you lose many vitamins like A, D, E, and K.
Benefits of Eggs
Whether you enjoy them as a snack or a way to start your day, there are many reasons to love eggs, including the benefits to your health they provide.
Can improve eye health
If you want to improve the health of your eyes but aren't a huge fan of carrots, consider eggs. They're packed with lutein and zeaxanthin, which are antioxidants studies show help prevent age-related vision loss. By eating eggs regularly, you could reduce your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S.
May improve pregnancy health
Folate or folic acid is associated with neural tube development. Before and during pregnancy, eating foods that contain enough folate may help prevent major birth conditions, including anencephaly and spina bifida.
Omega-3s have also been shown to have a positive effect on pregnancy. They may help prevent preterm labor and delivery, lower your risk of preeclampsia and depression, and lead to a higher birth weight for your baby.
May lower risk of stroke
Several studies show that eating eggs lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. While other studies have shown that eggs increase other health risks, it is important to remember that eating eggs is good for your diet as long as you maintain a healthy balance of nutrients.
One reason eggs are such a popular snack is that they pack a lot of protein into such a small package, helping you feel full longer. In fact, eggs are a complete protein source, meaning they have all nine amino acids humans can't produce on their own and need to take in from other protein sources.
With relatively few calories and almost no carbohydrates, eggs can make for an easy morning pick-me-up or an afternoon snack that keeps you satisfied throughout the day.
In addition to these benefits, eggs are also a great source of:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
Other important nutrients in a large egg include:
1 gram of polyunsaturated fat
2 grams of monounsaturated fat
70 milligrams of sodium
6 grams of protein
Large eggs also provide:
Nutrients per serving
One large chicken egg has:
- Calories: 70
- Fat: 4 grams
- Cholesterol: 207 milligrams
- Sodium: 65 milligrams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Protein: 6 grams
Egg serving size
Research shows that eating eggs in moderation doesn't have a negative impact on your health. It's important, however, to be mindful of portion sizes, as eating too many eggs can be harmful. Balancing your diet with low-cholesterol, low-sodium foods and monitoring your calorie intake overall without focusing too much on a single food can help you enjoy eggs as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Egg white nutrition
If you want to get nutrients from an egg, watch cholesterol and fat, and eat fewer calories, consider eating the egg white only. The yolk has the fat and cholesterol content of an egg.
The white of an egg has:
4 grams of protein
55 milligrams of sodium
1.3 micrograms of folate
6.6 micrograms of selenium
2.3 milligrams of calcium
3.6 milligrams of magnesium
5 milligrams of phosphorus
53.8 milligrams of potassium
You can also make baked items using egg whites. You can usually replace a single egg in a recipe for two egg whites.
Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling eggs while cooking. Separating the yolk requires more handling of the egg, which may raise your risk of salmonella food poisoning.
One of the easiest ways to prepare eggs is to scramble them. To do this, crack an egg into a bowl, add a little bit of milk, and combine the yolk, egg white, and milk using a fork or whisk. Cook the egg mixture in a frying pan until the egg forms solid lumps.
Once you get used to cooking eggs, you can experiment with different ways of preparing them, including:
- Over easy
If you don't like the taste of eggs by themselves, you can try spicing them up by making:
- Deviled eggs
Eggs can also be found in many baked goods. Keep in mind that baking and cooking with eggs can change their nutritional value.
Different cooking processes—such as frying vs. poaching or boiling—can affect the amount of glycotoxins in your eggs. Different methods can also affect how your body digests the proteins and other nutrients found in eggs. Cooking at low heat using healthy, plant-derived oils is the best way to preserve the nutrients in your eggs when cooking them.