Eggs: Nutrition and Benefits
By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD
Eggs are often claimed to be one of the healthiest foods that exist. They are loaded with beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of protein. However, eggs have also gotten a bad reputation over the years, mainly due to their cholesterol content.
So, what’s the verdict? Are eggs healthy to eat, or are they harmful? This article explains what you need to know about eggs.
Are eggs healthy, or not so healthy?
Eggs are rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein. One egg contains approximately (1):
6 grams of protein
22% of the Daily Value (DV) for selenium
15% of DV for riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Over 5% of the DV for vitamin B12, folate, and vitamin B6
Each egg yolk contains vitamins and minerals along with approximately 200 mg of cholesterol, while the white only has protein.
Previous nutrition recommendations suggested limiting cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day and therefore cutting back on cholesterol-rich eggs. In light of these recommendations, consumers began avoiding whole eggs and opting for egg whites that just contained protein and no cholesterol.
The suggestions to limit cholesterol intake were based on the idea that consuming cholesterol from foods caused blood cholesterol levels to rise and therefore increased the risk for heart disease.
However, this theory has not been strongly supported by research, and studies have indicated no link between the consumption of cholesterol-rich foods, including eggs, and a higher risk for heart disease (2, 3). In fact, the most recent USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans no longer list cholesterol as a nutrient of concern nor recommend a limit of 300 mg a day.
So, eggs appear to be a highly nutritious food for most healthy adults. The vitamin and minerals in eggs are also particularly beneficial for pregnant women and vegetarians who do not consume many animal products.
Are eggs good to eat for weight loss?
Cholesterol levels aside, you may be wondering if eggs are a good protein to eat while you are trying to lose weight. In short, yes. Eggs and egg whites are nutritious proteins that can be incorporated into balanced meals.
In particular, egg whites are incredibly lean and contain 4 grams of protein each for only 16 calories (4). So, while egg whites lack the beneficial nutrients that the yolk contains, they still pack quality protein for 1/5 of the calories in a whole egg, making them a great choice for those trying to lose weight.
Overall, it is best to eat a variety of lean proteins, from both eggs and egg whites as well as other animal and plant foods.
Note from Healthy for Life Meals: We include both whole eggs and egg whites in our meals so that you can reap the benefits of both! Our menus are designed with your health in mind, so you can eat healthy without doing the work or guesswork. Get started with one of our plans today!