Eggs have a pretty mixed history.
Sometimes they have been viewed as something to avoid, largely because of a potential connection to cholesterol.
Yet, other times they are viewed as nutritional powerhouses and fantastic additions to the diet.
So, the real question is, are eggs healthy?
As science continues to progress, the pendulum is swinging back towards that second view – that eggs are good for your health.
That’s a good thing too because eggs are full of nutrients, including some fairly rare ones.
In fact, here are 9 reasons why you should be including eggs in your diet right now.
1. Eggs Are Incredibly Nutritious
The nutrient profile for eggs is amazing – yet it is so often overlooked because of the reputation surrounding eggs.
For example, some of the most significant nutrients in eggs include (1):
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- Vitamin B5
At the same time, eggs contain smaller amounts of many other nutrients that are needed for the body, including things like vitamin E, potassium, iron and folate.
Eggs manage to offer all of this nutrition, but they really aren’t all that high in calories for the nutrition they provide.
However, when it comes to nutrients, it’s important to talk about the egg yolk and the egg white.
When people are trying to lose weight, they often eat only the egg white, discarding the yolk.
It is true that most of the calories from the egg are in the yolk, but there’s a good reason for that. Specifically, the yolk is also where the nutrients are.
The nutritional profile of eggs also makes them a great option for people who are unlikely to get enough nutrients in their diet.
This can include the elderly, as well as people who are disabled and some other groups.
Eggs work well for this purpose because they are relatively low in price, are easy and fast to prepare, and there are so many different options for their preparation (2).
This makes eggs a key example of a functional food.
2. They Don’t Affect Blood Sugar Much
One great thing about eggs is that they don’t have much impact on blood sugar.
That probably isn’t too surprising as eggs mostly consist of protein and fat, which also makes them a very low carb food.
This aspect of eggs makes them a great choice for people who have to watch their blood sugar levels or for anyone on a low carb diet.
3. Eggs Are a Great Choice for Struggling Households
Eating healthy can often be an expensive challenge.
But, eggs are pretty reasonable in terms of price, especially because they can go such a long way.
You can also use eggs in so many different types of food, including baking, sandwiches, breakfast and even dinners. That’s great if your finances are limited or if you simply don’t have much in the cupboard.
At the same time, eggs are easy to buy and easy to store.
Storage is actually a bit of an interesting topic.
If you are in the United States, then eggs do need to be stored in the fridge to protect against bacteria.
Another good thing is that you don’t have to worry about them going bad fast.
They will go bad eventually, but typically eggs have a shelf life of 3 to 5 weeks (6), which is much better than fresh meat or vegetables, as these don’t last that long at all.
Eggs have an expiration date on them, but the simplest approach is to do a float test.
If the egg floats in a bowl of water, then it has gasses which make it unsafe. If it doesn’t float, then it’s safe to eat (7).
4. Eggs Are a Good Source of Vitamin B12
Another aspect of the question, are eggs healthy comes from their vitamin B12 content.
Vitamin B12 is a vitamin that humans cannot produce, so it has to come from the diet or from supplements.
This vitamin plays important roles in red blood cells and in DNA.
It is also very possible to be deficient in vitamin B12, especially for vegans and for vegetarians who do not eat enough dairy products.
The catch with vitamin B12 is that it comes from animal products, including meat, cheese, milk and eggs (8).
So, vitamin B12 really is critical for health.
While eggs aren’t the only source of vitamin B12 out there, they are a good option for getting more of it into your diet (12).
5. There Are So Many Options with Eggs
I love how versatile eggs are.
I mean, with most healthy foods, it’s a bit of a struggle to figure out how to include them in the diet.
There are certainly a number of ways to include both of these foods in your diet, but figuring out good recipes and approaches can often take time.
With eggs, there are just so many different approaches that it’s actually difficult to avoid using them.
For starters, there is a range of cooking methods, like poached, fried, scrambled and boiled.
Then there are dishes like omelets, frittata and egg muffins, all of which heavily feature egg.
And that’s not even mentioning all the recipes that use egg as an ingredient to add flavor or hold things together. That one is especially true for baking, as so many baking recipes rely on eggs to some degree or another.
So, if you want to use eggs more, there are lots of options to get you started. For that matter, Dr. Axe offers a list of 28 egg recipes, while Serious Eats provides 22 egg recipes that work for dinner.
6. Eggs Are a Rich Source of Choline
Choline is a frequently overlooked essential nutrient, which is sometimes considered to be one of the B-complex vitamins.
The nutrient is especially significant for brain function and may also be relevant for cardiovascular outcomes, which makes it important that people get enough of it (13).
Research has also indicated that the amount of choline required can vary between the sexes and depend on whether or not a female has been through menopause.
That makes it harder to estimate the amount of choline that people need, although an Adequate Intake level has been established (14).
Choline is especially relevant for pregnant women, as getting sufficient choline can help to protect against brain defects in the fetus (15).
Indeed, much of the population consumes less than the Adequate Intake levels for choline, which is a major cause for concern.
To make matters worse, many physicians and even nutritionists aren’t fully aware of the significance of choline, so the nutrient tends to get overlooked even by medical personnel (16).
Egg yolks are a particularly good source of choline, with one large egg containing roughly 116 mg of choline (17).
Choline can be obtained from other sources, like milk.
However, eggs are a logical choice for choline, because they contain considerably more.
For example, to get the same amount of choline in one egg, you would have to drink a bit over 3 cups of nonfat milk (18).
Eating just one egg a day would help to dramatically decrease the number of people deficient in choline, particularly in relation to pregnant woman and seniors (19).
7. They Might Even Help You Lose Weight
One myth about eggs is that they are going to make you gain weight.
This is actually one of the key reasons that people ask, are eggs healthy, because it seems that eggs can’t be if they make you gain weight.
There is some logic to that idea. After all, you get more calories from a couple of eggs and toast for breakfast than you would from oatmeal or another light, low-calorie breakfast.
But, eggs aren’t actually that heavy in calories, not for the nutrients they contain.
For weight loss, one of the biggest advantages of eggs is protein.
Protein is often underestimated, but it can help to increase satiety after a meal, which can reduce the amount that a person consumes in following meals.
This means that having protein for breakfast can keep you full for longer.
In turn, that might reduce cravings for food and how much you eat at your next meal. Those outcomes could directly contribute to weight loss.
In fact, one study even showed that on an energy-deficient diet eggs were able to reduce weight loss (e.g. when a person is counting their calories), but the same result was not seen when people were not restricted (23).
Another study illustrated that an egg breakfast did increase satiety and decrease the amount eaten at the next meal when compared to a carbohydrate breakfast with the same calories (24).
Those studies do highlight that eating eggs for breakfast can play a role in weight loss, provided people remain aware of their calorie intake.
And realistically, having an egg-based meal doesn’t need to be that high in calories.
One large egg is around 70 calories (25). So, if you had three eggs it would be around 210 calories, add in some veggies, or some cheese or some toast and you have yourself a fairly decent snack or meal, and the calories are still very manageable.
8. You Can Eat Eggs Often
Part of egg’s negative image is this idea that you shouldn’t have more than one egg per day, or that you shouldn’t have them very often.
There really isn’t any evidence for that though.
For one thing, that perspective is based largely on the idea that eggs raise cholesterol.
Generally speaking, dietary cholesterol doesn’t have much impact on the cholesterol in your blood, and research has even illustrated that eating two eggs per day doesn’t raise cholesterol significantly (26).
Additionally, cholesterol in your blood isn’t actually as bad as most people think.
I’m not going into the science behind these claims here, largely because there is a lot to go through. But, if you’re interested, take a look at my detailed post on the cholesterol and heart disease myth.
Research actually suggests that people can safely eat more eggs than is commonly recommended as part of a healthy diet. This includes for people with diabetes, those at risk of heart disease, people actually with heart disease, the general population and other specific groups (27,28,29,30).
In fact, higher levels of egg consumption have even been linked to a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in an observational study of 2,332 men (31).
That outcome does make sense, as people may be eating eggs instead of foods that are higher in sugar.
One study did find that eating more than one egg per day resulted in a slight increase of heart failure in men, but eating less than six eggs per week or less didn’t have any negative outcomes at all.
No similar relationships were found with women or with other outcomes, including stroke frequency (32).
Additionally, that same study showed no negative outcomes of egg consumption for people with diabetes, regardless of the amount consumed.
Overall, there is a strong balance of evidence showing that increasing your intake of eggs isn’t going to harm your health at all.
9. There Are Lots of Options
As is the case with other products, not all eggs are the same.
For example, you will often find free range and cage free eggs at the grocery stores.
Those terms imply that the chickens are healthier and are not abused, but that isn’t always the case.
Instead, companies often stretch the limits of those definitions.
Take cage free as an example.
The term does mean that the chicken isn’t raised in a cage, but it could just be in a cramped room with many other chickens.
Likewise, the term free range can simply mean that the hen house has a window that grants chickens the option of going outside. The term doesn’t actually mean that the chickens do go outside.
An alternative type to look out for is pastured eggs.
This term isn’t as common, but it refers to situations where the chickens are allowed free roam and they eat natural food as well as the conventional food fed to chickens.
You can also find organic eggs, where organic feed was used and the chickens weren’t treated with antibiotics or hormones.
It’s difficult to know what the health differences are across the types and there might not be much difference at all.
But, at the same time there is considerable variation between one farm and the next, so more research is needed to know how much difference there truly is between the different types of eggs.
Nevertheless, the differences in the way that hens are treated may be important for people who are concerned about animal cruelty or who are trying to avoid additives and hormones wherever possible.
You can also get eggs that have been enriched with omega-3 through the use of omega-3 grain.
So, there are certainly lots of options with eggs and you can choose based on our own needs and budget.
The great thing is that even the conventional eggs are healthy and a good addition to the diet.