Nutrients In Eggs

Eggs are a nutrient goldmine!

One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories.

While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
  • Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

Filter By Topic

Egg Myth-Information


Today’s post comes from Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN, an award-winning nutrition expert and author of Read It Before You Eat It. As a health influencer, media spokesperson and owner of BTD Nutrition Consultants, LLC, Bonnie advises global corporations and food companies and has been featured in thousands of TV, radio, print and web interviews. She blogs for US News & World Report & Everyday Health, and you can find her on twitter @eatsmartbd or visit her website at

In the 1980s, the word, “cholesterol” was treated as a curse word. Like a billboard in Times Square, “No Cholesterol,” became a hot display on the front of food packages, including on products that never contained cholesterol to begin with, such as vegetable oils. Demonization of cholesteroland fat often led to fats in food being ditched and replaced with sugars, helping to bolster the rise in obesity rates instead of slashing them. Media sensationalism seemed to supersede science.

Researchers later showed that it wasn’t necessarily the cholesterol within a food that increased cholesterol levels in our bodies, rather, harm arose from the saturated and trans fat contents of food (1). In fact, we need fats in our diet, and more recent studies have even pointed out that saturated fats may not deserve the bad boy reputation bestowed upon them (2-4). And an even bigger surprise was the TIME Magazine story that grabbed attention when author Bryan Walsch highlighted that, “Our demonization of fat may have backfired in ways we are only just beginning to understand.” He went on to say, “Saturated fat also raises levels of the so-called good HDL cholesterol, which removes the [bad] LDL cholesterol that can accumulate on arterial walls.” Therefore, “Raising both HDL and LDL makes saturated fat a cardio wash.” If you’re confused by now, you’re not alone, and just imagine how your clients and the average consumer feel. The saturated fat story is perhaps just beginning to hatch, with more research warranted.

Serving only to augment your clients’ confusion about food and nutrition, it seems that shocking media messages take precedence over scientific studies. One food that seems to clearly be misunderstood is the egg. So now it’s time to clear up the confusion surrounding egg nutrition for your clients, particularly when it comes to some of the most popular myths and facts that need to be better eggs-plained:

Myth: Eggs are high in cholesterol and can raise cholesterol levels.

Fact: The Harvard School of Public Health notes, “moderate egg consumption—up to one a day—does not increase heart disease risk in healthy individuals and can be part of a healthy diet” (5,6). In fact,eggs provide a host of benefits that override their cholesterol content including the reduction of risks of developing macular degeneration, the main cause of blindness, and cataracts, both diseases of the eye, aided by eggs’ content of lutein and zeaxanthin (7). Rich in choline, eggs also play a role in brain and nervous system regulation (8).

Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.

Fact: Eggs are not like bread, where the darker grains are more nutrient-dense. The only reason some eggs are brown and others are white is because the chickens that hatch the eggs have different colored feathers! There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs; all eggs are a good source of the highest quality protein that exists.

Myth: Eggs contain too much fat.

Fact: Aside from the fact that we are way too fat phobic…it’s important to mention that eggs contain the right kind of fat. One egg contains just 5 grams of fat, with only 1.5 grams of which are saturated fat. The fat content of an egg may help delay digestion, thereby making it a perfect breakfast food to squelch hunger and welcome satiety (9).

Eggs are often associated with new life and birth. Perhaps it’s time to look at eggs in a fresh, new light. With bodies of scientific evidence to showcase their nutritional benefits, eggs’ versatility and value can’t be beat!



1)      Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9(1):8-12.
2)      BMJ-British Medical Journal. “Low saturated fat diets don’t curb heart disease risk or help you live longer.” ScienceDaily, 5 March 2014. <>.
3)      University of Cambridge. “New evidence raises questions about the link between fatty acids and heart disease.” ScienceDaily, 17 March 2014. <>.
4)      Chowdhury R, Warnakula S, Kunutsor S, Crowe F, Ward HA, Johnson L, Franco OH, Butterworth AS, Forouhi NG, Thompson SG, Khaw K, Mozaffarian D, Danesh J, Di Angelantonio E. Association of dietary, circulating, and supplement fatty acids with coronary risk. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2014; 160(6):398-406.
5)      Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Manson JE, Ascherio A, Colditz GA, Rosner BA, Spiegelman D, Speizer FE, Sacks FM, Hennekens CH, Willett WC. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. JAMA. 1999; 281:1387-94.
6)      Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006; 9:8-12.
7)      Vishwanathan R, Goodrow-Kotyla EF, Wooten BR, Wilson TA, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk increases macular pigment concentrations in older adults with low macular pigment taking cholesterol-lowering statins. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 90(5):1272-9.
8)      Zeisel SH. Choline: Needed for normal development of memory. JACN. 2000; 19(5):528S-531S.
9)      Kozimor A, Chang H, Cooper JA. Effects of dietary fatty acid composition from a high fat meal on satiety. Appetite. 2013; 69:39-45.

Nutrition Close-Up, Summer 2014

Nutrition Close-Up, Summer 2014 (pdf, 1.5 MB)

Articles in this Issue…

The role of the brain, ‘food cues,’ in overeating

By Kerri Boutelle, PhD

Obesity is a serious and refractory problem that is associated with multiple medical and psychological comorbities and risks. Recent data suggest that in the United States, two out of every three adults are overweight or obese, and one out of three children is overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, psychological impairment, poor quality of life, and all-cause mortality.

Vitamin D: a stronger link to health

By Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN

Getting adequate vitamin D and calcium is essential for children, who need to grow strong bones, and for adults, who need to maintain strong bones and prevent bone loss. New findings
from the Women’s Health Initiative, the largest clinical trial of >36,000 postmenopausal women, confirm the safety and synergistic benefits of these two nutrients, showing a 35-38 % reduction
in hip fracture incidence 1. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, you are less likely to efficiently absorb calcium in the gut and may lose bone as you age. The development of low bone density
and/or osteoporosis later in life, which affects approximately 54 million Americans over the age of 50 years 2, is highly linked to suboptimal nutrition and physical activity patterns during young adulthood. After the age of 20-25 years, when bone growth reaches its full genetic potential, bone “withdrawals” can begin to exceed “deposits” (except in the skull, which increases in mass throughout the lifespan).

Complexity of individual variability in nutrition

By Tia M. Rains, PhD

One size does not fit all when it comes to health. Be it diet, exercise, or prescription medications, what works wonderfully for one person may produce little effect or even the opposite
effect in others. This is not surprising given metabolic differences between individuals. I remember observing this first-hand as an undergraduate student in a clinical chemistry course. Each
student underwent some basic blood tests and we compared results across the class. For some tests (e.g., liver enzymes), there was little variability among the students. But in others, there was quite a bit of diversity in results. For example, the blood glucose and insulin responses to an oral glucose tolerance test varied dramatically student to student.

New research in fight against childhood obesity

By Jamie I. Baum, PhD

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has more than doubled in adults and more than tripled in children and adolescents since the 1970s. Roughly one in three children ages 2-19 years is overweight or obese. Obese individuals have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, and dyslipidemia. Once restricted to adults, these metabolic diseases are now being diagnosed in children. Increasing protein in the diet has been linked to improvements in glucose and insulin control, blood cholesterol, body composition, energy metabolism, as well as increased weight loss in adults. However, very little research has been focused on determining if increasing protein in the diet of school-aged children has comparable health benefits.

Low-carb training getting mileage with endurance athletes

By Dave Ellis, RD, CSCS

Training low” has nothing to do with altitude and everything to do with intentionally training with low glycogen stores to enhance fat metabolism. It is the latest craze for endurance athletes who seek to preserve glycogen stores by optimizing utilization of fat stores through an adaptive process during their training. This is typically accomplished by lowering carb feed rates to <3 g / kg / d for five days or more 1. Fat intake is increased to compensate for lower carb calories with the idea that intramuscular triglyceride stores go up along with enzymes necessary for fat oxidation.

Save Your Sight: Keep an Eye on Your Diet

N-Cochran-torsoToday’s post comes from Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD. Cochran is a nutrition communications consultant, appearing regularly in national and local media to discuss nutrition topics. Cochran is a long-standing nutrition contributor for Woman’s World Magazine, as well as a member of ENC’s Health Professional Advisory panel.

No doubt everyone has heard since childhood that carrots are good for the eyes. And carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a phytonutrient that is converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A promotes eye health, particularly helping to prevent night blindness, or the inability to see clearly when going from bright to dim light. According to recent research, however, there are several other nutrients that can reduce the risk of vision problems associated with aging, like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful antioxidants that protect the macula, a spot near the center of the retina of the eye, from free radical damage. High dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin can reduce the risk of cataracts by up to 20% and macular degeneration by up to 40% (1). Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in egg yolks as well as dark green and orange fruits and vegetables like spinach, broccoli, turnip greens, peas, corn, squash, melon, nectarines, oranges, papaya, guava and bell pepper. The lutein and zeaxanthin in eggs may be more bioavailable than that in fruits or vegetables because eggs contain fat, which enhances absorption of these fat-soluble compounds. Indeed, research has demonstrated that eating one egg a day increases blood lutein and zeaxanthin levels (2, 3).

Vitamins A, C, E and Zinc
As antioxidants, vitamins A (beta carotene), C and E protect the lens of the eye from free radical damage, while zinc is required for the production of melanin, a pigment that helps protect the eye. In the Rotterdam study, Dutch researchers found a diet with foods high in beta-carotene, vitamins C, E and zinc was linked with a 35% reduced risk of AMD (4, 5). Milk, yogurt, eggs and some breakfast cereals provide vitamin A, and in the form of beta-carotene, sources are dark green and orange fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is plentiful in citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, cantaloupe, bell pepper, broccoli and potatoes, while beef, pork, oysters, fortified cereals, milk and eggs supply zinc.

The Women’s Health Study showed that participants who consumed the most vitamin E were 14% less likely to develop cataracts (6). Vitamin E-rich foods include vegetable oils, nuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and sweet potato.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Evidence suggests that inflammation plays a role in AMD, and omega-3 fatty acids may help regulate inflammatory and immune responses in the retina to reduce risk. Omega-3s are most plentiful in deep water fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring and sardines, while soybean and canola oil, flaxseed and walnuts provide a plant form of these fats. Eating fish just once a week reduced early AMD by 40% in a group of over 3500 subjects (7). Other studies have also confirmed omega-3s’ protective effect against AMD (4, 8).

The bottom line: eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, lean meats, low-fat dairy, eggs, whole grains and healthy oils will help promote good vision and protect against age-related vision conditions.

Neva Cochran, MS, RDN, LD



  1. Moeller SM, Jacques PF, Blumberg JB. The potential role of dietary xanthophylls in cataract and age-related macular degeneration. J Am Coll Nutr 2000; 19: 522S-527S.
  2. Goodrow EF, Wilson TA, Houde SC, Vishwanathan R, Scollin PA, Handelman G, Nicolosi RJ. Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. J Nutr 2006; 136: 2519-2524.
  3. Ata S, Barona J, Kopec R, Jones J, Calle M, Schwartz S, Luz Fernandez M. Consumption of either one egg or lutein-enriched egg per day increases HDL cholesterol, reduces apolipoprotein B while increasing plasma carotenoids and macular pigment density in adult subjects. FASEB J 2010; 24: 92.4
  4. Ho, L et al. Reducing the Genetic Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration With Dietary Antioxidants, Zinc, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Arch Ophthalmol 2011; 129:758-766.
  5. van Leeuwen R, Boekhoorn S, Vingerling JR, Witteman JC, Klaver CC, Hofman A, de Jong PT. Dietary Intake of Antioxidants and Risk of Age-Related Macular Degeneration. JAMA 2005: 294:3101-3107.
  6. Christen, W, Liu, S, Glynn, R, Gaziano, J, Buring, J. Dietary Carotenoids, Vitamins C and E, and Risk of Cataract in Women. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008; 126:102-109.
  7. Chua, B et al. Dietary Fatty Acids and the 5-Year Incidence of Age-Related Maculopathy. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006; 124:981-986.
  8. Seddon J, George, S, Rosner B. Cigarette Smoking, Fish Consumption, Omega-3Fatty Acid Intake, and Associations With Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Arch Ophthalmol. 2006; 124:995-1001.

Choline Intakes and Recommendations in the U.S. May Be Suboptimal

Dr.-Taylor-C.-WallaceToday’s post comes from Taylor C. Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN. Dr. Wallace is an accomplished food and nutrition expert, residing in the Washington, DC area.  He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in addition to three academic textbooks.  Dr. Wallace has a doctorate degree in Food Science & Nutrition from The Ohio State University and frequently serves as a media spokesperson on hot topic nutrition, food safety and food technology issues.  Visit Dr. Taylor Wallace’s blog at

Choline is a nutrient similar to B-vitamins, often lumped in with them, but not officially a B-vitamin.  It helps our livers avoid accumulating fat, aids in neurotransmission and is a structural component of our cell membranes.

Have you ever considered how much choline is in your diet?  The fact is that most consumers and even health professionals are “in the dark” when it comes to knowledge on this vital nutrient.  Choline has several important functions in the body; it is essential for proper liver and brain function across the lifespan.  Deficiency typically results in liver and muscle damage in adults.  Women with lower intakes of choline have a much higher chance of having a baby with a neural tube defect, since choline is highly involved in fetal growth and brain development.  Achieving adequate choline intake during pregnancy and lactation is even more important since the mother’s reserves may be easily depleted (i.e. low intake by mom equals low intake by baby).1

The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) last reviewed and established Dietary Reference Intakes for choline over 15 years ago (see table).2  The Adequate Intake (AI) is a calculated “target value” to achieve for optimal health.  The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the value a healthy individual should not exceed.  When these values were established by IOM in 1998, it was assumed that less than 5% of the population needed more than the established AI, due to genetic differences among individuals.  Since then, it has been reported that as much as 50% of the population may require a higher level of choline.3

Table 1: Dietary Reference Intakes for Choline as defined by IOM in 1998.

Population AI1 UL2
0-6 months6-12 months
125 mg/d (18 mg/kg)
150 mg/d
Not possible to establish
1-3 years
4-8 years
9-13 years
200 mg/d
250 mg/d
375 mg/d
1000 mg/d
1000 mg/d
2000 mg/d
14- 18 years
≥19 years
550 mg/d
550 mg/d
3000 mg/d
3500 mg/d
14-18 years
≥19 years
400 mg/d
425 mg/d
3000 mg/d
3500 mg/d
All ages
450 mg/d Age-appropriate UL
All ages
550 mg/d Age-appropriate UL

1 AI = Adequate Intake
2 UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level

According to my recent research, over 91% of the population does not meet the current recommended intake (i.e. the AI) for choline, even when the use of multivitamins are considered.4  This is because most mainstream multivitamins do not contain choline (SHOCKING given the widespread insufficiency across the population and the link to neural tube defects in infants).  Choline is found in a number of food products, but it is most common in animal-derived products.  Eggs, beef and pork are among the best sources of dietary choline.  One egg provides about 125 mg of choline5 or about 1/3 of the daily recommendation.  Also note that choline is present in the egg yolk and not egg whites! Whole eggs, therefore, can be a great option for health professionals to suggest to their clients to help them achieve desirable choline intakes.



1. Yan J, Jiang X, West AA, Perry CA, Malysheva OV, Brenna JT, Stabler SP, Allen RH, Gregory JF 3rd, Caudill MA. Pregnancy alters choline dynamics: results of a randomized trial using stable isotope methodology in pregnant and nonpregnant women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013; 98:1459-67.
2. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1998.
3. Kohlmeier M, da Costa KA, Fischer LM, Zeisel SH. Genetic variation of folate-mediated one-carbon transfer pathway predicts susceptibility to choline deficiency in humans. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2005; 102:16025-16030.
4. Wallace TC, McBurney M, Fulgoni VL III. Multivitamin/mineral supplement contribution to micronutrient intakes in the United States, 2007-2010. J Am Coll Nutr. 2014; 33(2):94-102.
5. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service.  USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.  Available at:  Accessed on April 25, 2014.

Spring it On! The Perfect Pairings for the Perfect Protein


Time to finally bid goodbye to cold, dark winter and welcome sunny spring as it inches itself into our midst. The bluer skies, fresh green grass, chirping birds and the smell of rain are indeed a treat for the senses, but the pièce de résistance is the edible part of the season! Spring brings with it bountiful vegetables and fruits that make for delicious pairings with eggs.

Spring produce is abundant in nutrients like vitamins C & A and iron; vitamin C is particularly important for growth and repair of tissues, while vitamin A plays a role in vision, and iron helps our muscles store and use oxygen. When consumed with eggs, the vitamins and minerals in the seasonal fruits and veggies can complement the array of nutrients found in the eggs. Furthermore, eggs provide the perfect high-quality protein, which helps build muscles1 and allows people to feel full longer and stay energized, which can help maintain a healthy weight.2,3,4

Here are a few ways to make the most of the season’s offerings:

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, or served grilled, stir fried, baked or simply boiled and seasoned. Providing iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and fiber, these seasonal spears can make a nutritious addition to an egg-based dish like a frittata. For that added zing and a boost of lycopene and vitamin A, asparagus can be combined with tomatoes, in this tasty Spring Garden Vegetable Quiche.

Tomatoes can also be a great addition to salads made with other spring vegetables like lettuces andspinach which contain iron, folate and beta-carotene. To add flair (and more vitamin C) to your salad, throw in some radish greens for a peppery taste, or green peas for that dash of sweetness (as well as B vitamins and zinc). Crowning your salad with a hard-boiled egg can make it a protein-rich, satisfying meal.

And, for that perfect ending to a spring meal, this is the time of year to make the most of fruits that contain whopping amounts of antioxidants.  A fresh bowl of citrus fruits, strawberries, cherries and other fruits that scream spring will never cease to please.

So what are you waiting for? Spring clean the winter out of your diet and indulge in nutritious seasonal fare!



  1. DK Layman and NR Rodriguez (2009). Egg protein as a source of power, strength, and energy. Nutrition Today, 44(1), pp 43-48.
  2. HJ Leidy, RJ Lepping, CR Savage and CT Harris, C. T. (2011). Neural responses to visual food stimuli after a normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens: a pilot fMRI study. Obesity, 19, pp 2019–2025.
  3. HJ Leidy, MJ Bossingham, RD Mattes and WW Campbell (2009). Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an initial and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. British Journal of Nutrition, 101, pp 798-803.
  4. JS Vander Wal, A Gupta, P Khosla and N V Dhurandhar (2008). Egg breakfast enhances weight loss. International Journal of Obesity, 32, pp 1545–1551.