Eggs are a good source of protein and contain many key vitamins and minerals, including calcium, potassium, and iron. All of these nutrients are vital components of a person's diet.
Eggs were once a controversial choice due to concerns about saturated fats and cholesterol, but researchers have since proved that eggs have a number of dietary benefits.
This article looks at the nutritional profile of eggs, as well as some of the latest research into the risks and benefits associated with eating eggs.
One large, hard-boiled egg weighing around 50 grams (g) contains the following nutrients, according to the USDA:
- Calories: 78
- Protein: 6.29 g
- Total fat: 5.3 g
- Carbohydrate: 0.56 g
- Dietary fiber: 0 g
- Sugars: 0.56 g
- Calcium: 25 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 0.59 mg
- Phosphorous: 86 mg
- Potassium: 63 mg
- Zinc: 0.53 mg
- Cholesterol: 186 mg
- Folate: 22 micrograms
- Vitamin A: 260 international units (IU)
- Vitamin D: 44 IU
However, the way a person cooks an egg slightly alters its nutritional profile. For example, the same 50 g of a whole, scrambled egg has around 4.99 g of protein and 36 IU of vitamin D, according to the USDA.
Several research studies have tested the nutritional value of eggs as part of the daily diet.
For example, one study in The FASEB Journal included 26 participants, ages 60–75, with obesity. The researchers asked them to eat either an egg based, high fat diet or a carbohydrate based, low fat diet for 8 weeks.
After 8 weeks, the scientists measured the participants' body fat composition. Those who ate three whole eggs per day in a low carbohydrate diet lost more fat than those who ate a high carbohydrate, low fat diet.
However, it is important to note that the Egg Nutrition Center funded this study.
The researchers found that eating up to one egg per day helped reduce a person's risk of stroke, but they did not see an increase or a decrease in the participants' risk of heart disease.
However, one study in the journal Heart that included data from half a million adults found that eating an average of one egg per day was significantly associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
A study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effects of a high egg diet versus a low egg diet in people with diabetes. The team defined a high egg diet as eating two eggs per day on 6 days per week and a low egg diet as eating fewer than two eggs per week.
After 3 months, the researchers found that high egg consumption did not affect the cholesterol levels of the participants. They did find, however, that a high egg diet can increase satiety, or feelings of fullness.
Eggs can be a healthful addition to the diet. To reap the nutritional benefits, a person can incorporate them into a variety of meals.
Previous controversy surrounding eggs and their nutritional value concerned the amount of cholesterol in egg yolk. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one large egg contains around 186 mg of cholesterol.
However, the secretaries of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA removed the recommended daily limit for cholesterol in 2016.
This followed recommendations from dietary advisory committees, which noted that research has not shown that dietary cholesterol — in foods such as eggs — poses a danger to heart health or cholesterol levels in the body.
Most recently, a 2019 study in the journal Nutrients found evidence to support the omission, concluding that eating eggs is not associated with excess cholesterol levels in the body. The results are based on the Hellenic National and Nutrition Health Survey, which asked more than 3,500 participants questions about their dietary habits.
If a person typically has a healthful diet and is mindful of their total daily intake of foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol, eating cooked, whole eggs is unlikely to harm their health.
A bigger concern regarding egg consumption is that allergies are common, especially among children. In fact, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, around 2% of children are allergic to eggs.
Although many outgrow this allergy by the age of 16, some people experience reactions so severe that they cause difficulty breathing.
Some symptoms associated with an egg allergy include:
- a feeling of tightness in the throat
- stomach cramping
- swelling of the lips and tongue
If a person suspects that they or someone they know is having an allergic reaction to eggs, they should seek medical aid.
People with severe egg allergies may need to carry an epinephrine injector pen to treat the symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction.
A person can incorporate eggs into their diet in a variety of ways, such as by:
- boiling, poaching, or scrambling the eggs
- making omelets or quiches that contain eggs or egg whites as well as vegetables and lean meats
- incorporating eggs into casseroles and adding vegetables or lean meats
- adding a boiled egg to a salad or having one as a snack
Eating hard-boiled, poached, or scrambled eggs can be very nutritious. To ensure that the eggs are a healthful addition, refrain from cooking them in butter or high fat oils.
Eggs can be a healthful addition to any meal, or they can serve as a snack. A large, hard-boiled egg contains only 78 calories, as well as protein and vital nutrients, such as vitamin D.
Although nutrition experts have expressed some concern surrounding eggs' cholesterol content, most current research suggests that eggs do not adversely affect people's cholesterol levels.
Anyone who has concerns about egg consumption, however, should speak with a doctor.