Chicken eggs are often maligned for their high cholesterol content. But these inexpensive sources of protein actually offer tremendous nutrition and can play a role in a healthy diet. Eggs can be eaten on their own or used in baked goods, sauces, puddings, ice cream and casseroles.
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One large chicken egg contains 72 calories. Fat content of an egg is 4.75 g, with 1.55 g of these saturated. Eggs contain just a trace amount of carbohydrates but are high in protein, with 6.28 g per serving. The egg white contains 3.47 g of this protein.
Eggs provide small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium. They are also a source of most B vitamins, as well as vitamins E, K and A. According to the World's Healthiest Foods website, egg yolks are a good source of choline, a newer addition to the B vitamin group. Egg yolks are also a source of lutein, an antioxidant that helps with vision.
How a chicken egg is prepared affects its calorie and fat content. Hard-boiled, soft-boiled and poached eggs do not contain added calories or fats. A fried egg contains 92 calories and 7 g of fat, and a scrambled egg contains 101 calories and 7.45 g of fat. Using nonstick cooking spray rather than butter, margarine, bacon grease or cooking oil can help minimize these additional calories and fats. Eggs should be cooked thoroughly to reduce the risk of salmonella, a type of food poisoning.
One whole, large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol. The American Heart Association says that people with normal cholesterol levels should stick to 300 mg or fewer per day, while those on cholesterol-lowering medications or with high cholesterol should eat less than 200 mg daily. Keep cholesterol in check by eating fewer high-cholesterol foods later in the day if an egg is eaten at breakfast. Since egg yolks contain most of the nutrients lutein and choline, some people are advised not to cut them out completely but to mix a whole egg with several egg whites to make a larger portion with less cholesterol and calories.
A study in the "International Journal of Obesity" published in August 2008 found that including an egg breakfast as part of a low-calorie diet can actually increase rate of weight loss by 65 percent. Eggs are a good choice for low-carb dieters and frugal shoppers. Eggs can be used as a topping for salads, an on-the-go snack or even in a dinner frittata with fresh zucchini, parmesan cheese and onions.