Aren’t eggs smashing? Pun very much intended! They are a staple for breakfasts and brunches the world over and they play a key role in lots of baking recipes, adding structure, colour and flavour to cakes.
Not only are they delicious scrambled, boiled or poached, but they are also good for us.
Eggs have a lot of nutritional benefits when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Eggs are rich in protein
Eggs are an excellent source of protein. A large egg can contain as much as 6g of protein.1
It is often thought that all the protein is contained within the egg white, but there is also lots of protein to be found within the egg’s yellow yolk.
Around half of the egg’s protein is egg white protein, with the other half coming from the yolk.
You should therefore ensure that you eat the entire egg to get all of the benefits from the egg protein.
Eggs contain vitamins and minerals
As well as protein, eggs contain various vitamins and minerals.
These are often more plentiful within the egg yolk, rather than the white of an egg and so it is important to eat a whole egg, in order to gain all of its nutritional benefits.
Vitamin D is one of the most well-known egg vitamins.
Egg yolks contain 37 IU of vitamin D and the NHS recommends that we should be taking 400IU of vitamin D each day.2
Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in the body which is needed to keep the bones, teeth and muscles healthy.3 And eggs are one of the few foods which naturally contain it.
It is especially important to ensure that you are getting your recommended daily value of vitamin D during the winter months because we are not exposed to as much sunlight when the weather is colder and the days are shorter.
Free range eggs usually offer around 30% more vitamin D than other eggs so make sure you check the label and opt for these eggs if you are looking to up your vitamin D intake.4
Eggs contain 6% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin A which is 700 micrograms per day for men and 600 micrograms per day for women.5,6
Vitamin A helps to support normal vision as well as normal functioning of the immune system, the reproductive system, the heart, lungs and kidneys.7
The average egg contains 0.25mg of vitamin B2.8 The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B2 in the UK is 1.3mg.9
Vitamin B2 is also known as riboflavin and is essential for normal energy metabolism amongst other cellular processes such as red blood cell development, vision and nervous system function.10,11
Two large eggs provide around 46% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin B12, which is about 1.5 micrograms per day for adults.12,13
Egg yolks have higher levels of vitamin B12 than egg whites and the vitamin B12 that egg yolks do contain is easier for the body to absorb.14
Vitamin B12 helps the body to make red blood cells, keeps the nervous system healthy and releases energy from food.15
One large egg contains approximately 22 micrograms of folate, which is over 10% of the amount of folate which adults need each day.16,17
Folate helps the body to make healthy red blood cells.18
One large egg contains around 24 micrograms of iodine.19
The UK dietary recommendation for iodine intake is 140 micrograms per day for anyone ages over 15.20
Iodine is added to chicken feed and this is then passed on to the yolk.
Iodine is used by the body to make thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism as well as helping to develop bones and the brain during pregnancy and childhood.21
How many eggs should you eat?
There is no recommended limit on how many eggs you should eat.
It is best to cook eggs without using additional salt or fat, so best put away that butter!
They are also best eaten poached, boiled or scrambled as frying eggs can increase their fat content by around 50%.22
But aren’t eggs high in cholesterol?
Eggs have been given a bad rap up until much more recently because of their high cholesterol levels.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood are associated with heart disease but recently, it has been discovered that saturated fat has a greater effect on blood cholesterol than cholesterol in food.23
The average egg contains around 4.6g of fat, of which only a quarter is unsaturated fat.24
Eggs also help to increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) which is also known as good cholesterol and it is thought that HDL can help to reduce the risk of heart disease.25
Read more: Discover the healthiest ways to eat eggs
Last updated: 18 March 2021