Incredible. Edible. Ringing any bells? Yup, we’re talking about eggs. Turns out these little packages hold a ton of dietary goodness. There’s a lot to cover when it comes to egg nutrition, so let’s get *cracking*.
Eggs have been referred to as “nature’s multivitamin” because they deliver so many important nutrients.
One cooked large egg provides:
- Calories: 71.5
- Protein: 6.28 g
- Fat: 4.76 g
- Carbs: 1 g
- Vitamin A: 9% of the DV
- Riboflavin (B2): 17% of the DV
- Vitamin B12: 15% of the DV
- Choline: 21% of the DV
- Iron: 5% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 8% of the DV
- Selenium: 28% of the DV
- Zinc: 6% of the DV
Just one egg packs a nutritional punch. Protein-rich, low in carbs, and higher in fat, eggs are a filling addition to meals and snacks. Plus, they’re high in vitamins and minerals, including some that many peeps don’t get enough of (like B12 and choline).
Egg whites vs. whole eggs
It’s important to understand that most of the nutrition in eggs is concentrated in the yolk. Even though egg whites are a great source of protein, they can’t compete with the variety of nutrients found in whole eggs or egg yolks.
Here’s how it breaks down:
Egg whites are lower in calories and fat, but they’re also much lower in other nutrients than egg yolks.
One egg white provides less than 1 percent of the DV for iron, B12, phosphorus, zinc, choline, and vitamin A. Egg whites do contain some selenium and riboflavin, but it’s much less than the amount in whole eggs.
So, if you want to get as much goodness out of your eggs as possible, eat the yolks!
Eggs are packed with many of the nutrients your body needs to live its best life. So it’s no surprise that eating eggs has been linked with some pretty sweet health benefits.
1. Can help keep you feeling full and satisfied
Eggs are a super filling food, mostly thanks to their high protein content.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, which means it helps you feel full. Adding protein sources to meals and snacks is important and can help reduce your chance of becoming hangry in between.
Research suggests that eating eggs at breakfast can enhance feelings of fullness, improve blood sugar regulation, and help reduce food intake at meals later in the day.
2. May contribute to changes in body composition
Eggs are a great source of protein, which is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass. Plus, lots of studies suggest that protein-rich diets promote fat loss.
A small 2020 study suggested that eggs and resistance training are a perfect pair. Thirty male participants ate either three whole eggs or six egg whites immediately after resistance training sessions for 12 weeks. Both groups gained muscle and lost fat during the study period.
3. Beneficial for blood sugar
A small 2016 study suggests adding egg and fiber to your breakfast can reduce post-meal blood sugar increases. Participants who ate eggs and fiber at breakfast also ate fewer calories at the next meal than those who had a cereal breakfast low in protein and fiber.
4. Important nutrients for pregnancy and breastfeeding
Many pregnant and breastfeeding folks don’t get enough choline, a nutrient that’s essential for brain development in babies and placental function in pregnant people. (It’s also helpful for many other critical processes in the body.)
Pregnant folks need 450 milligrams (mg) per day, and breastfeeding peeps need 550 mg. Unfortunately, it’s very common to fall short of these recommended amounts.
Eggs are one of the richest sources of choline you can eat. Two eggs contain 235 mg of choline. That can provide a large chunk of your daily choline needs.
Shopping for eggs can seem a little complicated. Most folks don’t know the difference between all the common labels found on egg cartons, like “free-range” and “pasture-raised.”
What common labels on egg cartons mean
Here’s the deal:
- Conventional eggs. These are laid by hens confined to battery cages with no access to the outdoors. There are major animal welfare issues concerning this type of farming. Hens in cages can’t participate in normal behaviors like perching, nesting, or foraging and don’t even have the ability to spread their wings.
- Cage-free. Cage-free hens are not raised in cages… but don’t get too excited. These hens don’t have access to the outdoors.
- Free-range. Hens must have access to outdoor space at least 6 hours per day, but the “outdoor space” doesn’t have to be covered in vegetation, and each hen gets only 2 square feet of outdoor space.
- Pasture-raised. This is by far the best choice when it comes to animal welfare. Pasture-raised hens must have at least 6 hours per day on pasture (land covered with vegetation). Each hen must have at least 108 square feet of pasture.
There are also a few certifications egg cartons may carry that indicate participation in animal welfare programs.
Certified Humane, Global Animal Partnership, and Animal Welfare Approved are certification programs that require 100 percent compliance with standards, including enriched and cage-free environments. These certifications are verified by independent auditors.
Egg nutrition of pasture-raised hens
Not only are hens with access to pasture happier and healthier, but their eggs are also more nutritious. Research suggests eggs from pasture-raised hens are higher in:
One of the best ways to ensure your eggs were laid by hens raised in a healthy and humane environment is to buy eggs from local farmers who raise their hens on a pasture or let them roam free.
You can also find pasture-raised eggs at some grocery stores. If you have the time, space, and resources, you can even keep your own chickens. They can provide you with eggs (and endless entertainment)!
In addition to being super nutritious, eggs are versatile and can be added to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
Here are a few ways to work more eggs into your weekly menu:
- Add sliced hard-boiled eggs to salads for a boost of protein.
- Combine eggs and veggies in omelets, frittatas, and egg muffins for filling breakfast options.
- Pop fried eggs on top of grain dishes to make them more satisfying.
- Snack on hard-boiled eggs and sliced veggies or fresh fruit for a nutritious and filling snack.
- Use eggs in baked goods like breads and cakes.
Alternatives to eggs
Whether it’s due to an egg allergy, an intolerance, or an ethical decision, some people can’t eat eggs.
Eggs are known for their impressive nutrient profile. They’ve even been linked to certain health benefits.
If you’re into eating eggs, pay attention to the types you’re buying. Eggs from pasture-raised hens aren’t just best for animal welfare — they also provide the most nutrients.
Try adding eggs to dishes like frittatas, grain dishes, stir-fries, and salads for a boost of nutrients you can enjoy any time of day.