Eggs Eggs-plained: Egg Nutrition

nutrition facts label imprinted on a brown egg

Eggs are commonly touted as a low-cost, high-protein healthy food. Though once relegated to the back of the refrigerator because of the high levels of cholesterol, new research shows that one large egg contains 14 percent less cholesterol than previously thought, and cholesterol levels in the blood stream are related more closely to diets high in saturated and trans fats, than to dietary cholesterol.

Eggs, as simple as they seem, are complex, nutritionally, aesthetically and ethically. Below you will find information on the nutrition of an egg—or, more specifically, a chicken egg.  

The Nutritional Profile Of An Egg

One large chicken egg contains:

  • 70 calories
  • Six grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids, almost all of which are located in the egg white
  • 10 percent of the recommended daily protein, iron, minerals and B vitamins. Eggs also naturally contain Vitamin D, a vitamin that is difficult to get in its natural state.
  • Five grams of fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat, located in the yolk.

Health Benefits Of The Egg

The health benefits of the egg vary. Most of the nutrients, except for the protein, are found in the egg yolk itself, which also contains the egg’s fat and cholesterol.

  • Lutein and zeaxanthin: Nutrients that help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • Choline: An important nutrient for lactating and pregnant women that helps brain development in fetuses. Choline is found only in the egg yolk.
  • High levels of protein: People will feel full for longer, with the satiety helping them to eat less over the course of the day and assist with weight management. Additionally, the protein in eggs can help prevent muscle loss that accompanies aging.  

Egg Shell Colors

Chicken eggs can be white, brown or even light green or blue. The shell color is determined only by the breed of the chicken, and does not affect the nutritional value of the egg.

All large eggs, whether white, brown or green, will have 70 calories, six grams of protein and five grams of fat.

Egg Sizes

When you go grocery shopping, you may notice the different sizes of eggs available in the supermarket.

Eggs come in six sizes: pee wee, small, medium, large, extra large and jumbo. Most grocery stores sell medium, large and extra large eggs.

Egg size is determined by the weight of one dozen eggs. For instance, one dozen large eggs must weigh no less than 24 ounces, while one dozen extra large eggs must weigh more than 27 ounces.

Egg size is important in terms of calories and nutrients provided, but more importantly in the way eggs work in recipes, especially cakes and other baked goods. Most cookbooks will specify the size of egg that the recipe uses. If no size is specified and if no weight is given, most cooks assume that the recipe calls for large eggs. A size substitution chart can be found at the American Egg Board site.

Although you may see some eggs in the egg aisle advertising that they are high in omega-3s, this egg product has recently come under scrutiny. But regardless of which chicken eggs you buy, you are purchasing a healthy, nutritious meal.