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.

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2010 Dietary Guidelines: Focus on High Quality Protein

On January 31st, the USDA and HHS presented the 2010 Dietary Guidelines and thereby upheld their Congressionally mandated responsibility to provide science-based nutritional and dietary guidance to the general public in a document that serves as the foundation for federal nutrition education and promotion programs. This was the first time the dietary guidelines were based on an evidence based body of scientific knowledge, reviewed by an elite group of scientific advisors, and written to suggest best practices for the many stakeholders that produce and deliver food to the American public. This is no small task and those who participated should be widely commended.

A main focus of the guidance is to consume nutrient dense foods. Nutrient density, possibly an unfortunate term, defines a food by its nutrient content for the amount of calories it provides. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, individuals should “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” and “replace protein foods that are higher in solid fats”. Choosing foods that supply high quality protein with minimal solid or unhealthful fats would be an example of nutrient density. If seafood and fish were plentiful and affordable it would be easy to “increase the amount and variety of seafood consumed” as recommended. Milk, meat, poultry, and eggs in addition to seafood supply high quality protein along with many valuable nutrients in natural combinations that have supported life on earth and allowed mankind to evolve. Therefore, for optimal health it is important to vary lean protein foods including lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds to get a full complement of all the needed nutrients.

Although the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are correct in stressing the importance of incorporating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains into the American diet, it is still important to remember that high quality protein foods supply many nutrients such as heme iron, vitamin B12, calcium and zinc which are in short supply in fruits/vegetables and whole grains. If there are foods to be avoided, I would suggest the grain based desserts (pie, pastry, granola bars) which from the tables and charts within the guidance document appear to supply substantial amounts of both solid fats and added sugar without a sufficient nutrient balance.

– Marcia

Eggs are Nutrient-Rich; an Egg-A-Day is OK

As a registered dietitian I’ve always been asked about “healthy foods”. I know at parties people watch what I take from the buffet table and feel a little uncomfortable eating decadent foods when I’m around. This is strange since my philosophy is to enjoy foods but make a diet of those which supply the most nutrients whenever possible.

This is why I was happy to see the list of “The 10 most healthy foods” posted last week on the HealthKicker blog. This list offers a reasonable list of foods that are both delicious and nutrient rich. The list doesn’t mention only trendy foods that are examples of good marketing but instead foods that have stood the test of time. On the list are berries, dark leafy vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, dairy, beans/legumes, nuts, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and eggs. Not very radical but reasonable, these foods won’t make you stand out at parties but will help supply the nutrients needed for maintaining good health. In fact, just recently my youngest child who is now officially an adult came home from college and remarked at dinner that he never noticed that I always cook “healthy”. By this he meant, I offer a variety of vegetables at meals and I rarely fry foods or use gravies. I consider it a success that it took so long for him to notice that this was different than what he observed others eating. He hasn’t suffered, but learned to enjoy foods and preparations that are naturally healthy.

I mentioned trendy foods and this is a point worth repeating.  HealthKicker blog points out the various reasons natural foods are full of nutrients. For example, the nutritional content of an egg as a source of high-quality protein, choline, lutein and zeaxanthin is mentioned in relation to the role in pregnancy, eye health and the prevention of age-related macular degeneration.  This is very timely information considering the upcoming release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines which is our government’s guidance for getting adequate nutrition from the American food supply. In fact, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee concluded in their scientific report that the consumption of one egg a day is not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke in health adults. Now that’s a food trend that good to see is back in style.

– Marcia