Truth About Eggs

By Kathleen Nielsen

What is the power of eggs? Eggs are excellent for us because of all the nutrients they provide—vitamins and minerals—and they contain the highest quality protein of all foods.

Egg
​Are eggs good for us?

Eggs are excellent for us because of all the nutrients they provide—vitamins and minerals—and they contain the highest quality protein of all foods. In the past the egg yolk has been vilified, however as you can see from the chart below, most of the nutrients are found in the yolk. So the whole egg must be eaten to gain the nutritional value found in an egg.

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How many eggs per day is it OK to consume?

The most recent dietary guidelines (2010) from the USDA reflect a change in how eggs are viewed as part of a healthy diet. According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines, “Independent of other dietary factors, evidence suggests that one egg (i.e., egg yolk) per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people.” Eating one egg a day is fine and for most people eating more than one a day is fine too. The only group that should maybe limit their egg consumption are those with cardiovascular disease as their blood cholesterol and lipids are typically high.  

How much cholesterol is in one egg?

The most recent analysis of eggs done in 2010 shows a 14% decrease in cholesterol and a 64% increase in Vitamin D. Currently there are 185 mg of cholesterol and 41 IU of Vitamin D in a large egg. What we now know the greatest dietary cause of an increase in blood cholesterol is not the amount of cholesterol in the food eaten but rather the amount of saturated and trans fat. Eggs are low in both saturated and trans fats, hence the cholesterol in an egg does not cause much (if any) increase in blood cholesterol.  


In the grocery store there are many varieties of eggs: free range, cage free, omega 3, organic, pasteurized, vegetarian, brown. Are there really differences in the type of eggs we consume? 
  • According to our Chef at McKay-Dee Hospital, there is no physical difference between the eggs when used in cooking. The flavor and texture is the same regardless of the variety of egg used.  
  • Nutrients in the egg can only be changed by altering feed given to the hens. Changing the environment, like the free range or cage free eggs, does not necessarily change the nutrition. 
  • Nutritionally enhanced eggs like the omega-3 provide more of the nutrients that are increased in the feed. The omega-3 fatty acid content of eggs can be increased by adding flax, fish oil or algae to the feed.  This is a good alternative for people who don’t eat fish but want to increase their intake of omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Pasteurized eggs are good to use when raw eggs are used in a recipe that will not be cooked, like homemade ice cream or mayonnaise. The heat processing kills most of the salmonella bacteria—and it may slightly decrease the amount of heat-sensitive vitamins but not significantly.

What are some creative ways to consume eggs?

  • Egg frittatas are a great way to use eggs.  
  • Add egg to a stir-fry. Simply whip a raw egg and drizzle into the stir fry for added protein.
  • Broth soups—again whip the egg and stir it in. It adds protein and improves the consistency
  • Top Ramen can be greatly improved by adding frozen vegetables while the noodles are cooking and stirring in a raw egg at the end (drain liquid if desired before adding egg). Only add half the seasoning packet to reduce the sodium. Or, make your own by boiling pasta, add in vegetables to cook and after draining add the whipped egg.
  • In South America they serve a fried egg on top of rice. It is delicious with a little salt and pepper. Improve it by using brown rice or basmati rice, use cooking spray to “fry”, using herbs for seasoning and adding vegetables on the side.
To learn the nutritional value of eggs and other foods visit our Nutirtion Services site, http://intermountainhealthcare.org/services/nutrition-services/Pages/home.aspx​ 

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page: http://www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata

Discrepancies​ between nutrient levels in the white+yolk vs. the whole egg are due to sampling error.