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What are eggs?
Since the domestication of the chicken, people have been enjoying and nourishing themselves with eggs.
Both the egg white and yolk are rich in nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals. The yolk contains fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins D and E) and essential fatty acids; while most of the protein is found in the egg white.
Eggs are an important and versatile ingredient for cooking, and their particular chemical make-up is key to many important baking reactions. There are lots of different types of egg, the most common being chicken, while more gourmet choices might include duck, goose and quail.
Discover our full range of health benefit guides or, check out some of our best egg recipes, from our mushroom brunch to our egg and puy lentil salad with tamari and watercress.
Nutritional benefits of eggs
One medium chicken egg (boiled) contains:
- 84 kcal / 351 KJ
- 8.3g protein
- 5.7g fat
- 1.6g sat fat
- 18mcg folate
- 1.89mcg vit D
Top 5 health benefits of eggs
1. Highly nutritious
Whole eggs are nutritionally rich, supplying almost every nutrient you need. They are useful sources of some of the hard to get nutrients like vitamins D and B12 as well as the mineral iodine. Eggs are regarded as a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids, which we must obtain from our diet.
Furthermore, if you choose brands enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, due to the diet the chickens are fed, you’ll benefit from higher omega-3 fatty acids as well as fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and E.
2. May support heart health
Eggs are rich in several nutrients that promote heart health, such as betaine and choline. A study of nearly half a million people in China suggests that eating one egg a day may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, although experts stress that eggs need to be consumed as part of a healthy lifestyle in order to be beneficial.
3. Source of choline
Eggs are one of the best dietary sources of choline. This little talked about nutrient is needed by everyone of us for the formation of cell membranes and for brain function, including memory. It’s especially important during pregnancy and breast feeding, when an adequate supply of choline is essential for normal brain development.
4. May support eye health
As we age its normal for our vision to start to deteriorate but there are some useful nutrients, obtained from a balanced diet, which may help support eye health. Eggs are one example of an eye-friendly food. The yolk contains large amounts of carotenes, of particular note are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for preventing macular degeneration and cataracts. Eggs are also a source of vitamin A which is key for good eye sight.
5. May support weight management
Eggs are rich in protein, which is more filling than either fat or carbohydrate. As a food choice, eggs score well, being high on the satiety index, a measure of how filling a food is. In fact, studies show that an egg breakfast is more sustaining than the equivalent calorie counted carb breakfast and, what’s more, may help reduce your calorie intake later in the day.
Are eggs safe for everyone?
Salmonella food poisoning has been a concern, especially if eggs are eaten raw or undercooked. However, following changes in production protocols, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has changed its guidelines.
Current recommendations confirm that infants, children, pregnant women and the elderly may safely eat raw or lightly cooked eggs as long as they are produced under the British Lion Code of Practice. Visit the FSA website for more information.
Another safety concern regarding eggs is that they are a common food allergen, particularly among young children. Although most children outgrow an egg allergy by the time they go to school, some cases do persist into later childhood and sometimes even adulthood.
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See your GP if you have any concerns regarding allergies to eggs.
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This article was last reviewed on 31 August 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a Registered Nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in Personalised Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local health care provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.