Egg Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Egg

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

There are so many ways to prepare eggs that it's hard not to love them. Eggs are nutrient-dense, which means that they provide a high level of vitamins and minerals relative to the calories they contain. Eggs are an excellent source of protein and choline, and they also contain several B vitamins, along with vitamins A and D. Whether you boil, scramble, fry, or bake your eggs, they are handy and healthful (and won't raise your blood cholesterol levels, as was once feared).

Egg Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one large hard-boiled hen's egg (50g).

  • Calories: 78
  • Fat: 5g
  • Sodium: 62mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0.5g
  • Protein: 6g
  • Choline: 147mg

Carbs

Eggs are a low-carb food, providing less than 1 gram of carbohydrate in one large egg. They have a tiny amount of sugar and no fiber.

Fat

There are 5 grams of fat per large egg. About 1.6 grams is saturated fat, and the rest is polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat. Preparing eggs with fat (like frying them in butter or oil) will add fat and calories to your meal. Most of the fat in an egg is contained in the yolk. The yolk provides about 55 calories worth of combined fat and protein.

Protein

Eggs are a good source of high-quality, complete protein. Most of it is found in the egg white: There are 4 to 5 grams protein, 17 calories, and virtually no fat in a single large egg white. Egg whites are also a good source of leucine, an amino acid that may help with weight loss.

Vitamins and Minerals

Eggs provide important vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamin D (important for the absorption of calcium), phosphorus, vitamin A (for healthy vision, skin, and cell growth), and two B-complex vitamins that your body needs to convert food into energy. Eggs are also a very good source of riboflavin, selenium, and choline. 

Health Benefits

In addition to the health benefits provided by eggs' micronutrients, the protein and fat in eggs is beneficial as well.

Helps Maintain Muscle Mass

Eggs are a good source of protein. Eating foods with protein can help you to build and maintain strong muscles, which can become more difficult as we age.

Provides Healthy Fat

While eggs do contain saturated fat, they also provide both polyunsaturated fat and monounsaturated fat, which are considered "good" fats because they have been shown to be helpful in lowering your LDL or "bad" cholesterol and boosting heart health. The American Heart Association recommends limiting saturated fats to about 13 grams per day if you typically consume about 2,000 calories daily.

Promotes Eye Health

Eggs are also high in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect our eyes from macular degeneration (age-related loss of vision).

Supports Brain Health and Development

Choline, of which eggs are an excellent source, helps boost cognitive development in utero and may also protect us from age-related memory loss and other cognitive impairment.

Allergies

Egg allergies are one of the most common allergies, especially in children. Symptoms may include mild rash or stomach pains and in severe cases may include anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition. If you suspect an egg allergy, seek the care of a qualified healthcare professional for personalized advice. 

It is possible to be allergic to the egg white and/or egg yolk. An allergy to hen eggs may also mean that you are allergic to goose eggs and duck eggs, as well. Managing an egg allergy can be complicated because so many foods are prepared with eggs. However, since eggs are a major allergen, they must be identified on food labels, under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act.

In the past, some vaccines—including the seasonal flu vaccine—were made with eggs. Egg-free vaccines are now available and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get the flu vaccine, even people who are allergic to eggs.

Adverse Effects

Some people have concerns about the cholesterol in eggs, but dietary cholesterol (186 milligrams in a large egg) and blood cholesterol, which is tested to determine your risk for heart disease, are different. Current medical evidence suggests that eating foods that are high in dietary cholesterol will not significantly impact your risk for heart disease. Instead, reduce your saturated and trans fat intake to keep blood cholesterol levels at a healthy level.

Varieties

There is no difference in nutritional quality between brown and white eggs (or any other color shell). There are, however, some eggs that may provide more nutritional value. For example, you'll see "Omega-3 eggs" in some stores. These eggs come from hens that have been fed flax seeds to raise the level of healthy omega-3 fat in their eggs. Additionally, hens that have been allowed to feed on greens, grubs, and other natural foods naturally produce eggs with more omega-3 fat. These eggs may be labeled as "pastured eggs."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines "free-range" eggs as: "produced by hens that are able to roam vertically and horizontally in indoor houses, and have access to fresh food and water, and continuous access to outdoors during their laying cycle." There is no regulation of the type of feed that these hens receive.

Similarly, there is also a standard for eggs labeled "cage-free." The USDA says the hens that lay these eggs must be "able to roam vertically and horizontally in indoor houses, and have access to fresh food and water... [Cage-free systems] must allow hens to exhibit natural behaviors and include enrichments such as scratch areas, perches and nests."

Most often, Americans purchase hen eggs. But other poultry eggs are sometimes available, and these have slightly different nutritional profiles. Per 50g (the serving size of one large chicken egg):

  • Goose egg: 105 calories, 7.8g protein, 7.5g fat (2g saturated), 119mg choline, 481mg cholesterol
  • Duck egg: 105 calories, 7.2g protein, 7.8g fat (2.1g saturated), 119mg choline, 499mg cholesterol
  • Quail egg: 79 calories, 6.5g protein, 5.5g fat (1.8g saturated), 132mg choline, 422mg cholesterol

Storage and Food Safety

Store eggs in the refrigerator at 40 degrees F or colder. You can usually store eggs for about three weeks from the date of purchase. After hard-boiling, eggs will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Eggs can be frozen for up to one year if they are removed from the shell, beaten, and sealed in air-tight containers.

Since raw eggs can carry bacteria that cause foodborne illness, be sure to handle them safely. Keep refrigerated and cook thoroughly:

  • Scrambled eggs and omelets should be cooked until there is no liquid egg visible.
  • Fried eggs and poached eggs should be cooked until whites are completely set and yolks are beginning to thicken.
  • Casseroles and other dishes with eggs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

You may find pasteurized eggs in your grocery store. These have been heated in their shells to kill bacteria, but are not cooked. They are safer to use in recipes that call for uncooked or partially cooked eggs, such as Caesar salad dressing or spaghetti carbonara.

How to Prepare

Eggs are a necessity for bakers and a versatile ingredient for every home cook—and not just at breakfast time. A poached egg on whole-wheat toast makes a delicious meal at any time of day. If you enjoy scrambled eggs, try adding spinach and a bit of cheese for a healthful, filling dish. You can even scramble eggs in a mug in the microwave (add some veggies for even more nutrients and fiber).

Recipes

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Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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