A staple in many American diets, scrambled eggs make for a filling breakfast and also work well as part of a quick and easy dinner. Plain scrambled eggs offer protein, as well as vitamins and minerals that make them a healthy addition to your diet. Mixing in other nutritious ingredients, such as vegetables, further boosts their nutritional value. However, people sensitive to dietary cholesterol should eat scrambled eggs in moderation or switch to scrambled egg whites.
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The Basics: Calories and Protein
Prepared at home, a serving of two plain scrambled eggs contains 182 calories. Eggs provide a significant amount of beneficial protein -- 12.2 grams per serving, which is 27 percent of the daily recommended intake for women and 22 percent for men. Scrambled eggs' protein content supports proper cell function, maintains your body's hormone balance and nourishes your muscles. Because of their generous protein content, eggs can contribute to a high-protein diet, which increases satiety and aids in weight loss, according to a study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2005.
Vitamins B-5 and A
Some of scrambled eggs' health benefits come from their vitamin content. Vitamin B-5, sometimes called pantothenic acid, plays a key role in energy production by helping your cells break down nutrients into fuel. It also helps you make sex hormones. Vitamin A helps keeps you infection-free by maintaining the health of your immune system, and it's also essential for cell growth. A serving of homemade scrambled eggs provides 705 international units of vitamin A -- 30 and 24 percent of the daily vitamin A needs for women and men, respectively -- as well as 1.5 milligrams of vitamin B-5, or 30 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Selenium and Choline
Scrambled eggs boost your selenium and choline intakes. Like vitamin A, selenium supports the function of your immune system. It also neutralizes free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cell damage and are linked to cancer growth. Homemade scrambled eggs contain 28.7 micrograms of selenium -- 52 percent of your daily selenium needs. The choline in scrambled eggs helps maintain nerve function, makes up a component of cell membranes and helps your body form chemicals needed for cellular communication. Eat scrambled eggs, and you'll consume 270 milligrams of choline. This contributes 49 and 63 percent toward the daily intakes recommended for men and women, respectively.
Because scrambled eggs are typically prepared using the whole egg, they're high in cholesterol. A homemade version contains 338 milligrams of cholesterol while the fast-food version contains 409 milligrams -- more than the 300 milligrams a day recommended by the American Heart Association for the average person or 200 milligrams a day recommended for those with heart disease, diabetes or elevated LDL cholesterol. If you're making scrambled eggs at home, you can lower their cholesterol content by replacing some or all of the whole eggs with egg whites. Eat whole scrambled eggs as an occasional treat to avoid consuming too much cholesterol on a regular basis.
Choose Healthy Additions
When preparing scrambled eggs, the flavorings you choose can make or break the nutritional value of your dish. Making your eggs with butter or adding handfuls of cheese significantly increases your meals' calorie content and boosts your intake of harmful saturated fat. Focus on adding vegetables to your scrambled eggs -- they'll add bulk to your diet and boost your nutrient intake without adding many calories. Try a combination of diced green pepper, onion and zucchini, or add finely chopped kale and broccoli. Try mixing a spoonful of ground flaxseed into the raw egg mixture before cooking -- the flax won't significantly change the flavor of your meal, but it will add omega-3 fatty acids.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- University of Arizona: Facts About Eggs and Food Safety
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Egg, Whole, Cooked, Scrambled
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fat and Cholesterol
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol)
- Linus Pauling Institute: Choline
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Selenium
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: A High-Protein Diet Induces Sustained Reductions in Appetite, Ad Libitum Caloric Intake, and Body Weight Despite Compensatory Changes in Diurnal Plasma Leptin and Ghrelin Concentrations