Eggs sometimes get a bad reputation because of their cholesterol content and because they are among the most likely triggers of food allergies along with peanuts, fish, nuts, shellfish, milk and soybeans. But an egg also offers high nutrient value with 13 vitamins and minerals, high quality, easily digested protein, healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, all for fewer than 100 calories, according to IncredibleEgg.org.
One large 2 oz. whole egg without the shell contains 6 g protein. Of this protein, 3 g is contained in the egg yolk and 3 g in the egg white.
Additional nutritional information for one large egg without the shell, according to Kathleen Mahan in “Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy,” includes 75 g water, 80 calories, 6 g fat, 274 mg cholesterol in the yolk, 1 g carbohydrate, 28 mg calcium, 90 mg phosphorus, 1 g iron, 65 mg potassium, 69 mg sodium, 55 mg zinc, 260 IU vitamin A, 0.04 mg thiamin, 0.15 mg riboflavin, a trace amount of niacin, 0 mg ascorbic acid and 24 mg folic acid.
Each large egg contains 6.3 grams of complete protein -- protein with a balanced amino acid profile, that provides each of the amino acids you need in your diet. Your body uses amino acids -- the nutrients obtained from protein -- as building blocks to build new proteins, cells and tissues. The protein in one egg provides 12 percent of the daily protein requirements for an average 135-pound person, and 9 percent for an average 180-pound person.
Eggs provide a valuable source of protein and an inexpensive ingredient useful in cooking. Protein helps a person feel full longer and contributes to a healthy weight. Egg yolks provide a good source of choline that contributes to fetal brain development and prevention of birth defects. Choline helps adults maintain the structure of brain cell membranes and transmission of nerve impulses to muscles, according to IncredibleEgg.org. Bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants in egg yolks help prevent macular degeneration, an age-related blindness.
Many adults read contradictory information about what foods to eat and what to avoid to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in America. Many Americans avoid eggs because of their cholesterol content although, according to Eleanor Whitney and Sharon Rolfes in “Understanding Nutrition,” the American Heart Association approves an intake of up to four eggs a week and some research suggests that one egg per day is not detrimental for healthy people. However, some people are sensitive to cholesterol in their diet, and as a result the American Heart Association still recommends limiting your cholesterol intake.
Considerations and Risks
Persons on a strict low cholesterol diet must limit the use of egg yolks. Food manufacturers and most supermarkets offer several nonfat, no cholesterol egg substitutes. Limiting saturated fat is, for most people, more effective at lowering blood cholesterol than limiting dietary cholesterol, according to Eleanor Whitney and Sharon Rolfes in “Understanding Nutrition.”
To prevent food-borne illnesses, use clean eggs with intact shells. Cook eggs until whites are firmly set and yolks begin to thicken. Even pasteurized eggs should not be eaten raw, according to Eleanor Whitney and Sharon Rolfes in “Understanding Nutrition.” Raw eggs are commonly found in Caesar salad dressing, eggnog, cookie dough, hollandaise sauce and key lime pie.
- IncredibleEgg.org: Cracking the Cholesterol Myth
- IncredibleEgg.org: History of Egg Production: From Ancient Times
- “Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy, 10th Edition”; Mahan and Escott-Stump; (2000) IncredibleEgg.org: Do you know why the egg is so incredible when it comes to nutrition?
- IncredibleEgg.org: Protein/Weight Management
- “Understanding Nutrition, Ninth Edition”; Eleanor Noss Whitney and Sharon Rady Rolfes; (2002)
- Iowa State University Extension: Protein
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Raw, Fresh