Eggs are rich in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. They're used in a wide variety of cuisines, from your standard American breakfast to the egg-drop soup at your local Chinese restaurant. Eggs can be found in sweet foods, like cookies and cake, and in savory foods, like meatballs and salad dressings. From a nutritional point of view, not all eggs are equal. The nutritional value of eggs can change when they're cooked or processed in different ways.
The nutritional value of eggs can change based on the cooking technique used and how long you cook them. Using low to medium heat is the best way to retain the nutrients in your eggs.
Read more: The 20 Best Ways to Use Eggs
Nutritional Value of Raw Eggs
According to the American Egg Board, eggs have a wide range of beneficial nutrients. One large egg has lots of vitamins, including vitamin A, several B-complex vitamins, vitamin D and vitamin E. Eggs also contain calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.
Other beneficial nutrients include protein, lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for eye health. Some eggs may even be enriched with healthy fatty acids, known as polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are the same healthy fatty acids you get in fish oil and omega-3-rich foods.
A visit to a grocery store's egg case reveals the many different sizes of this popular food. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, eggs can range in size from 1.25 ounces (peewee eggs) to 2.42 ounces (jumbo eggs), and egg size can influence nutritional content. Large eggs are the size typically used in recipes. The American Heart Association recommends one egg per day as part of a healthy diet. Much more than one per day could be harmful to your health.
Read more: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
Raw Eggs vs Cooked Eggs
Unless you're making a dessert or salad dressing, you're probably going to end up cooking your eggs. The nutritional value of eggs when cooked can be a bit different from that of raw eggs, depending on factors such as the cooking method and what you're cooking the egg with. Cooking methods influence the amount of glycotoxins in your food.
Glycotoxins have been linked to various health issues, such as diabetes, heart problems and increased inflammation. You can reduce the glycotoxins in your food by using low heat and healthy fats, like extra virgin olive oil.
Nutritional Value of Cooked Eggs
Scrambled eggs and omelets are the most popular cooked egg styles in the United States, followed by fried and then boiled. Unfortunately, frying is one of the most destructive methods of cooking for the nutrients in eggs, and it's also the cooking method that produces the most glycotoxins.
This is because heat can denature egg proteins and nutrients. In particular, different cooking methods can reduce the amount of proteins, healthy fatty acids and carotenoids you're getting in each egg. Cooking methods can also influence the digestibility of eggs.
Heat isn't always bad, though. Cooking eggs thoroughly can be helpful to people with egg intolerances or allergies. People who can't eat raw egg products can sometimes safely eat heated egg products. In general, using low to medium heat can help retain nutrients and reduce glycotoxins in your eggs.
The best ways to cook eggs use healthy fats, or no fats at all, like with poached eggs. If you choose to eat raw eggs or food products with raw eggs, be aware that these have an increased risk of salmonella.
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: Advanced Glycation End Products in Foods and a Practical Guide to Their Reduction in the Diet
- International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science: A Review of the Impact of Preparation and Cooking on the Nutritional Quality of Vegetables and Legumes
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Effect of Domestic Cooking Methods on Egg Yolk Xanthophylls
- Medical History Journal: The Effects of Different Methods of Cooking an Egg on Its Therapeutic Properties From the Perspective of Persian Medicine
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Nutritional Contribution of Eggs to American Diets
- Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: Immunologic Changes in Children With Egg Allergy Ingesting Extensively Heated Egg
- Universiti Putra Malaysia International Repository: Effects of Cooking Methods on the N-3 Pufa Content of Pufa-Enriched Eggs
- American Egg Board: Nutrient Composition Tables
- USDA: United States Standards, Grades, and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs
- American Heart Association: Are Eggs Good for You or Not?
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Eggs