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Egg Nutrition and Health Benefits Explain Why It’s A Superior Food

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Health benefits of eggs - Dr. Axe

We all know that eggs are delicious. But did you know they can also reduce your risk of a laundry list of diseases, protect your skin and eyes from UV damage and improve liver and brain function? It’s true, and these are just a few of the amazing potential benefits of egg nutrition.

Eggs are also a great source of protein and can help provide a wealth of important nutrients, including selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin, all of which play a key role in overall health.

With that in mind, here is what you need to know about eggs, including the benefits and nutrition facts of eggs, plus some easy ways to add them to your diet.

Nutrition Facts

The nutrition facts of eggs can vary based on several different factors. For example, the exact amounts of egg nutrition in 100 grams of eggs is significantly different than the list of one egg nutrition facts.

The yolk and whites of the egg also contain a different set of nutrients, and the way that eggs are cooked and prepared can also have an impact on overall nutritional value.

Here are the nutrition facts for several specific types of eggs.

Hard-Boiled Egg

The hard-boiled egg nutrition profile is high in protein, low in total fat and rich in several important nutrients, including selenium, riboflavin and vitamin B12.

One large hard-boiled egg contains the following nutrients:

  • 78 calories
  • 0.5 grams carbohydrates
  • 6.5 grams protein
  • 5.5 grams fat
  • 15.4 micrograms selenium (22 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligrams riboflavin (15 percent DV)
  • 0.6 micrograms vitamin B12 (9 percent DV)
  • 86 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligrams pantothenic acid (7 percent DV)
  • 293 International Units vitamin A (6 percent DV)
  • 22 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)

Egg White

The amount of egg nutrition in the white vs yolk can vary quite a bit. In particular, egg whites are lower in calories and fat but are a good source of high-quality protein. However, the egg white nutrition profile contains a smaller range of micronutrients and is lower in certain vitamins and minerals, such as selenium.

One large egg white contains the following nutrients:

  • 16 calories
  • 0.2 grams carbohydrate
  • 3.5 grams protein
  • 0.1 grams fat
  • 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (9 percent DV)
  • 6.6 micrograms selenium (9 percent DV)

Egg Yolk

Compared to the egg whites nutrition profile, egg yolks are higher in calories and fat, but slightly lower in protein. The egg yolk nutrition profile also boasts a much broader array of important vitamins and minerals, including selenium, phosphorus and vitamin B12.

One large egg yolk contains the following nutrients:

  • 54 calories
  • 0.5 grams carbohydrates
  • 2.5 grams protein
  • 4.5 grams fat
  • 9.5 micrograms selenium (14 percent DV)
  • 66.3 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent DV)
  • 0.3 micrograms vitamin B12 (6 percent DV)
  • 24.8 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams pantothenic acid (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (5 percent DV)
  • 18.2 International Units vitamin D (5 percent DV)
  • 245 International Units vitamin A (5 percent DV)

Small Egg

The small egg nutrition profile is a good source of several key nutrients, including protein, riboflavin and vitamin A.

One small egg contains the following nutrients:

  • 54 calories
  • 0.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein
  • 3.5 grams fat
  • 205 International Units vitamin A (23 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (15 percent DV)
  • 0.3 micrograms vitamin B12 (13 percent DV)
  • 75 milligrams phosphorus (6 percent DV)
  • 18 micrograms folate (5 percent DV)

Large Egg

The large egg nutrition profile supplies a similar set of nutrients as smaller eggs, but with a slightly higher amount of vitamin A, vitamin B12 and phosphorus.

One large egg contains the following nutrients:

  • 72 calories
  • 0.4 grams carbohydrates
  • 6.5 grams protein
  • 5 grams fat
  • 270 International Units vitamin A (30 percent DV)
  • 0.5 micrograms vitamin B12 (21 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (15 percent DV)
  • 99 milligrams phosphorus (8 percent DV)
  • 24 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)

Health Benefits

1. Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

Thanks to the incredible egg nutrition profile, this power-packed ingredient can help keep your heart healthy and strong.

A comprehensive study released in 2015 discussed the assumption many people across the world have that the fat content in eggs is actually dangerous to those at risk for heart problems or diabetes. However, consuming the right kinds of eggs proved to be beneficial across the board, regardless of pre-existing conditions.

One reason that eggs are such a heart-healthy food is due to the presence of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids, consumed as part of a healthy diet, may help relieve inflammation, lower triglycerides and reduce blood cholesterol levels, all of which are risk factors for heart problems.

In addition to lowering blood triglycerides, eggs have been observed in clinical trials to regulate cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the bloodstream, balancing the ratio of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs) to low-density lipoproteins (LDLs), which could also help protect against heart disease.

2. May Help Prevent Disease

In addition to protecting heart health, eggs may also aid in the prevention of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of issues like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

One study released in early 2016 studied participants over 40 for almost 3.5 years to evaluate how egg consumption impacted metabolic syndrome. The study found that higher egg consumption could reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome in adults over 40 and that it had a positive, significant impact on blood sugar and triglyceride levels in men, in particular.

Not only that, but eggs also contain carotenoids, which are a type of antioxidant compound that can help protect against oxidative damage to the cells. Some research also shows that antioxidants may play a key role in disease prevention and could reduce the risk of developing chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer and autoimmune disorders.

3. Improve Eye Health

Carotenoids aren’t just beneficial for overall health and disease prevention. They also benefit your eye health. Two “oxygenated” carotenoids that are especially important for your eyes are lutein and zeaxanthin.

These two nutrients are found in various places in the body, but they are the only two of 600 total carotenoids that exist in the eyes — and their concentration is higher there than anywhere else in the body.

They work to maintain eye health by filtering out dangerous high-energy blue spectrums of light and acting as both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

What’s more, some research has found that lutein and zeaxanthin could aid in the prevention and treatment of many common eye diseases, including macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Eggs nutrition - Dr. Axe

4. Aid in Weight Loss

Eggs are low in calories but loaded with protein, making them an awesome addition to a well-rounded weight loss diet. Studies show that protein can reduce levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, to help curb cravings and support long-lasting weight loss.

Eggs are also very filling, which is another reason why they’re such a stellar addition to your diet if you’re looking to lose weight. One study in Journal of the American College of Nutrition actually found that swapping out bagels for eggs for breakfast increased satiety and reduced overall food intake over the next 36 hours, which could potentially translate to increased weight loss.

5. Maintain Liver Function and Brain Health

Choline is an important micronutrient that can be especially beneficial to brain and liver function.

In fact, the liver depends on choline to operate correctly, and one sign of a choline deficiency is poor liver function. Low choline levels are correlated with fatty liver disease, and some research in animals also indicates that choline deficiency may be linked to some types of cancers as well.

Plus, in proper amounts, choline has also been found to treat certain brain issues, such as depression, and improve memory and cognitive function.

6. Keep Your Skin Healthy

Besides protecting eye health by filtering out certain light wavelengths, the lutein and zeaxanthin found in the egg nutrition profile also help keep your skin healthy as well.

By filtering out the more harmful blue spectrum rays, these carotenoids slow down the oxidative damage that light can wreak havoc on your skin, specifically by UV rays, to reduce signs of aging and optimize skin health.

Free Range Eggs vs. Conventional

It may seem simple to just pick up the first carton of eggs you spot in the supermarket. However, the conditions in which hens are raised to lay eggs drastically affects not only the nutritional content of the eggs, but also the risk of consuming dangerous bacteria, such as salmonella.

You can buy eggs laid by free-range hens (allowed to roam, wander, perch and have a good quality of life), or by cage-raised hens (unable to move or engage in normal activity).

Caged hens can’t lie down, stand up, groom themselves or flap their wings. They’re held in cages averaging about 67 square inches of space and usually surrounded by manure pits and infestations of maggots, flies and other disease-carrying insects.

Time and time again, the differences between cage-raised and free-range eggs have been apparent. Free-range eggs may contain:

  • ⅓ less cholesterol
  • ¼ less saturated fat
  • ⅔ more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omega-3
  • 3 times more vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta-carotene

Not only do these eggs clearly win in the nutrition category, but free-range eggs are 98 percent less likely to carry salmonella! It’s no surprise, considering how cage-raised hens are expected to live.

Therefore, free-range eggs are a much better option to ensure food safety, support ethical farming practices and maximize the potential egg nutrition facts.

Free-range eggs vs. caged eggs - Dr. Axe

Recipes

Whether you like them hard-boiled, scrambled, over easy, poached or anything in between, there are dozens of ways to make eggs interesting.

Try whipping up a fried egg sandwich, adding eggs to a quiche or scrambling them into a casserole. Hard-boiled eggs are also a great addition to many different kinds of salads and work well as a nutritious, filling snack to keep you going between meals.

Need more inspiration? Here are a few other delicious recipe ideas:

Allergy

Unfortunately, egg allergies are one of the common food allergies in the U.S., with some research suggesting that approximately 1–2 percent of all children in the U.S. develop allergies to eggs and egg products.

If you notice any symptoms like hives, itching, swelling or stomach upset after consuming eggs, it’s best to discontinue consumption and consult with your doctor.

Some research indicates that consuming eggs baked into pastries and baked goods can elicit less of an allergic reaction than consuming whole eggs on their own. In fact, it’s estimated that around 70–80 percent of those with an allergy to eggs can tolerate baked goods containing eggs, like muffins and cakes. However, it’s best to talk to your doctor and exercise caution consuming any products containing eggs if you have an allergy.

Related: Are Eggs Dairy? + What You Need to Know About the Eggs You Eat

Side Effects

Although many advise against eating boiled eggs everyday to help keep cholesterol in check, more and more research has found that dietary cholesterol from healthy foods like eggs may not have much of an impact on blood cholesterol levels for most healthy adults.

For instance, one paper published by the University of Connecticut found that eggs could slightly increase cholesterol levels for about 30 percent of the population (known as “hyper-responders”). However, moderate egg consumption had no effect on cholesterol levels for the remaining 70 percent.

People at risk for heart problems, those with diabetes or those who take choline supplements should consult with a trusted health professional to determine the appropriate amounts of eggs to consume on a daily or weekly basis.

Finally, keep in mind that raw eggs have a higher risk of contamination with harmful bacteria, such as salmonella. Opting for cooked eggs instead of raw or selecting pasteurized eggs whenever possible can greatly reduce the risk of contamination and foodborne illness.

Final Thoughts

  • Eggs are high in a number of important nutrients. Although the exact amount can vary based on the type, size and cooking method, eggs are typically high in protein, selenium, vitamin A, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamin B12.
  • Potential egg nutritional benefits include increased weight loss, better skin and eye health, enhanced liver and brain function and a reduced risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
  • Free-range eggs, in particular, tend to be safer, more ethically produced and higher in several important nutrients.
  • There are many ways to enjoy eggs and they can be easily incorporated into many different recipes, making them a great addition to a balanced diet.
Josh Axe

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