Frequently Asked Questions
Interested in egg nutritional information? Below are some frequently asked questions regarding eggs and egg nutritional benefits.
Q: Are eggs good for you?
A: Yes! Eggs are a nutrient-dense food (aka eggs provide a nutrient bang for your calorie buck) according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs). The DGAs also include eggs within all recommended healthy eating patterns. One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals all for 70 calories. At just 20 cents each per large egg, eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein and contain all nine essential amino acids. In addition to protein, eggs are a good source of other important nutrients like vitamin D, phosphorus, riboflavin and selenium. Eggs are also rich in the essential amino acid leucine (one large egg provides 600 milligrams), which plays a unique role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis.
Q: Does nutrient content vary depending on egg color or how the hens are raised?
A: The nutrient content of eggs is similar regardless of color (white or brown), grade (AA, A, or B), or how they are raised (organic, free-range, and conventional). Although eggs are a natural nutrition powerhouse, feeding laying hens a diet enriched in specific nutrients like vitamin D or omega 3 can enhance that nutrient in eggs. Due to higher production costs, such specialty eggs are usually more expensive than generic shell eggs.
Q: Should I toss the yolk?
A: No! Most of the eggs’ nutrients and nearly half of the protein (just over 40%) is found in the yolk. Additionally, egg yolks carry fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin D, E, A, choline, and the antioxidants lutein/zeaxanthin. Plus, the fat, which is mostly unsaturated and found in the egg yolk, aids in the absorption of these essential and important egg components.
Q: How many eggs can I eat?
A: There are no specific recommendations or guidelines on how many eggs to eat a day or week. However, studies have consistently shown that eating up to two eggs per day does not have detrimental health effects. Research demonstrates that whole eggs can be a part of a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. In fact, the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans include whole eggs in all of their healthy eating patterns.
Q: Are eggs a good source of vitamin D?
A: Eggs are one of the few foods that are a naturally good source of vitamin D, with one egg providing 10% of the Daily Value (41 IU). Vitamin D is essential for maintaining calcium and phosphate levels, and in developing and maintaining healthy bones. Research is also showing several additional benefits of vitamin D including reducing risk for chronic health conditions such as diabetes and certain cancers.
Q: What is choline and who should be concerned about choline intakes?
A: Choline is an essential nutrient that is involved in memory, mood, and other brain/nervous system functions. It is particularly important during pregnancy, as it impacts fetal brain development and can help prevent birth defects. Approximately 90% of Americans do not eat adequate amounts of choline. Unfortunately, it is not found in high quantities in many foods typically consumed by Americans, with one exception – eggs have one of the highest amounts of choline of any food. Two large eggs contain more than half of the recommended intake for pregnant women and adults and can help them meet their needs.
Q: Do eggs contain antioxidants?
A: The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are two antioxidants found in the eye which help protect and maintain eye health. Emerging research is now demonstrating lutein’s impact on cognition in both children and adults. Eggs are a source of lutein and zeaxanthin, and while spinach and dark leafy greens have a higher lutein/zeaxanthin content per serving, the lutein/zeaxanthin from eggs has been shown to be better absorbed into the body.
Q: Do eggs increase the risk of heart disease?
A: More than 40 years of research has demonstrated that people can enjoy eggs without impacting their risk of heart disease. Research indicates that saturated fat is more likely to raise a person’s blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol. In fact, a recent analysis showed that eating up to one egg a day is associated with a 12% reduction in the risk of stroke.
Q: What’s the latest evidence on the benefits of high-quality protein?
A: The quality of dietary protein is determined by its amino acid composition as well as how well the body digests and utilizes the amino acids. Egg proteins, like milk and beef proteins, are easily digested and contain all of the essential amino acids. The protein in eggs can benefit weight loss and help prevent muscle loss with aging, all in its affordable and convenient package. Eggs are a most valuable protein!
Q: Can eggs promote a healthy weight?
A: Research demonstrates that eggs can help people feel more full, which can ultimately help them eat less throughout the day. For example, dieters who ate an egg breakfast lost 65% more weight and significantly more belly fat compared to those who ate a same-calorie bagel breakfast.
Q: Can people with diabetes eat eggs?
A: Yes, the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association recommend eating patterns that include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and low-fat dairy products, and restrict foods high in saturated fats, trans fats, high-sodium, and added sugars. Eggs can fit within the context of this diet. Some observational studies have shown a possible link between egg consumption and heart disease risk in individuals with diabetes. However, more recent clinical trials do not support these findings. Individuals with diabetes can eat 1-2 eggs per day without negatively impacting cardiovascular risk factors.
Q: Are raw eggs safe to eat?
A: Raw eggs or any products containing raw eggs should not be eaten. Even though the likelihood that an egg might contain bacteria is very small, the only way to ensure that any bacteria may be present is killed is to properly cook the egg. According to the FDA Food Code, eggs for immediate consumption can be cooked to 145°F for 15 seconds. If the eggs are to be used in a recipe with other food items, dilute the eggs with liquid or other ingredients, such as milk or sugar (at least ¼ cup liquid or sugar per egg as in custard) and cook the egg mixture to 160°F, which will destroy harmful bacteria in a few seconds. Adequate cooking brings eggs and other foods to a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that might be present. If a recipe calls for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs or pasteurized egg products.
Q: Where can I learn more about egg nutrition?
A: Eggs are a natural source of high-quality protein and a number of other nutrients – at only about 70 calories per egg. Nutrition research suggests eggs can play a role in weight management, muscle strength, healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health and more. For more information on all egg nutrition questions, visit the Egg Nutrition Center (www.eggnutritioncenter.org).
Q: Are cage-free or organic eggs more nutritious than other types of eggs?
A: The nutrient content of eggs is similar regardless of the hen housing environment. In fact, one large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals and high-quality protein. There’s also no nutritional difference between white or brown eggs; the different shell color is determined by the breed of hen that produced the egg. One exception is nutritionally-enriched eggs. Omega 3 enriched eggs are one example – flaxseed, fish oil or algal oils are added to the hen’s diet so they produce eggs with these nutrients. For other egg nutrition questions, visit the Egg Nutrition Center (www.eggnutritioncenter.org).
Q: Can I eat eggs if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
A: Eggs are as safe to eat during pregnancy or nursing as any other time of life – provided they are handled properly and cooked adequately. In fact, according to the Egg Nutrition Center, essential nutrients within the egg can support a healthy pregnancy, growth and development of children, and muscle mass and function during aging. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, which plays an essential role in fetal and infant brain development, and adequate choline during pregnancy may help prevent neural tube birth defects. For other egg nutrition questions, visit the Egg Nutrition Center (www.eggnutritioncenter.org).
Q: What should I do with leftovers containing eggs?
A: Promptly after serving, refrigerate any leftovers containing eggs. Thoroughly reheat leftovers and eat within two to three days. Without tasting them, discard any egg-containing leftovers that have been refrigerated more than three days.
A good resource to help manage leftovers is the USDA FoodKeeper app. This application provides food storage information and enables alerts to be set up to contact you before food spoils.
Q: How long are hard-cooked eggs safe to eat? Why do hard-cooked eggs spoil faster than fresh eggs?
A: Hard-cooked eggs should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking and used within one week. Shell eggs have a protective coating that is washed away when they are hard-cooked. This leaves the pores in the shell open for bacteria to enter.
Q: What exactly is cross-contamination and what should I do about it?
A: Bacteria can spread from people to food, or from one food or piece of equipment to another. This is called cross-contamination. To help prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to separate foods—especially raw meat, seafood, eggs, and poultry—from other foods. Also wash hands, utensils and surfaces with warm, soapy water before and after handling raw eggs.
Q: What is the best temperature to cook an egg?
A: Adequate cooking brings eggs to a temperature high enough to destroy bacteria that might be present in the egg yolk or egg white. Egg white coagulates at 144-149° F, yolk coagulates at 149-158° F, and whole eggs coagulate at 144-158° F. A food thermometer is an invaluable tool to quickly check for the right temperature.
Q: Is it safe to use eggs that have cracks?
A: Never purchase cracked eggs, because bacteria can enter eggs through cracks in the shell. If eggs crack on the way home, break them into a clean container, cover it tightly, keep refrigerated, and use within two days. When preparing, be sure to cook eggs thoroughly, with both the white and yolk firm.