Eggs are a versatile and delicious food, easily used in a number of dishes as well as edible by themselves: but what are the health benefits of eating eggs?
We use them in a vast amount of dishes, cuisines, and desserts, and they are often considered a staple in a lot of diets. However, how often do we think about what is actually in our morning omelette?
Fortunately, eggs are highly nutritious and there are many advantages to adding them to your diet! We’re going to detail the different types and varieties of eggs, as well as the numerous advantages to your health, answering questions like “what are the benefits of eating hard-boiled eggs?”.
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We’ll cover the following topics:
- Nutritional Information of Eggs
- Types of Eggs
- Varieties of Eggs
- What Are The Benefits of Eating Eggs?
- How Many Eggs Should You Eat?
- Best Time To Eat Eggs
- Benefits of Eating Raw Eggs
- Side Effects
- Healthiest Way To Cook Eggs
- Where To Buy Eggs
Nutritional Information of Eggs
The nutritional information of a standard chicken’s egg might surprise you as they contain such a broad range of vitamins and minerals.
In a medium-sized egg, there are usually around 65 calories, with a large egg containing approximately 80 calories, and a small egg having roughly 55.
Its important to note that the number of calories can also be impacted by your method of cooking. For example, poaching an egg does not add any more calories, but frying one in oil will add around 40 calories to the overall amount (depending on the type of oil you use).
Eggs also contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals, which is why there are a number of great benefits of eating chicken eggs! Eggs are really rich in vitamin B, vitamin D, and iodine. They also have decent levels of vitamin A!
Eggs are also rich in folate, which helps the immune system, and they’re a great source of biotin, which aids metabolism.
Chicken eggs are really rich in protein as well: a small egg has around 5 grams of protein, whilst a larger egg can have as much as 7 grams. This might not seem like much, but when you consider that the average protein intake for adults is recommended at about 60 grams per day, you can see how eating eggs can easily contribute to this number.
So what about the egg white and egg yolk: do they vary in nutritional content?
The short answer is yes!
The egg white and yolk are two very different aspects, each with different properties. The health benefits of egg whites include very high protein, whereas the yolk is where most of the minerals and fat is stored.
Check out our blog post on the 25 best antioxidant foods to find out what other ingredients you should be including in your regular diet.
What About Free-range Eggs?
There are a lot of different types of eggs available to eat, some are even quite exotic, and each has its own nutritional information and attributes.
Free-range chicken’s eggs are increasingly popular at the moment. They’re slightly more expensive, but knowing that the eggs have come from healthier and happier chickens is worth the price. These chickens haven’t been reared in battery farms where the conditions are poor and inhumane.
Free-range eggs are also slightly healthier and more nutritious than battery farmed eggs!
Free-range eggs tend to have higher levels of vitamins and minerals in them: healthier chickens make healthier eggs.
Whilst there is a difference, the nutritional content of free-range eggs isn’t dramatically different to standard or battery farmed eggs.
Types of Eggs
There are actually a few different types of standard chicken’s egg that are available for purchase, and the range of labels can soon become confusing. Some of the most common labels include:
- Free-range: the hens are raised in barns with regular access to outside areas (weather permitting).
- Free-run: the hens are raised in barns with housing systems that allow them to run around.
- Organic: the hens are raised in a free-range environment and fed from certified organic sources (meaning ingredients grown without pesticides, for example). The benefits of eating organic eggs are often considered to include better quality and better taste because the feed is of higher quality.
- Enriched: these hens are raised on feed that has been enriched with additional vitamins or other nutrients, such as vitamin E and vitamin D. Because of this, the eggs they produce contain higher levels of these nutrients.
- Processed: usually liquid or dried eggs, processed by machines, and usually with added preservatives.
Different Varieties of Eggs
Chicken eggs are certainly the most common type of egg consumed in the UK, but there are lots of other different types of eggs that are readily accessible and delicious!
These eggs can provide a different and often nutritious alternative to chicken’s eggs. Lots of these alternatives have their own health benefits and nutritional information, so check out each one to find the best for your diet.
This list isn’t exhaustive: we’re covering the more common eggs that you’d be more likely to find in supermarkets or retailers in the UK.
Per Egg: Calories: 14 Carbs: 0g Fat: 1g Protein: 1.2g
Quail’s eggs are becoming increasingly popular. They’re sometimes considered a delicacy which means that they can be a little hard to find, but growing numbers of supermarkets are beginning to stock them.
Quail are small birds that are related to pheasants. As they are smaller than chickens, their eggs also tend to be smaller in size. The eggs are often grey or slightly off-white in colour with brown spots.
Quail eggs tend to be higher in fat, protein and calories than their chicken counterparts, despite being smaller.
The yolk makes up more of a quail's egg than in a chicken’s egg too. The large amounts of yolk in quail’s eggs make them really rich in nutrients, especially considering their small size!
Per Egg: Calories: 130 Carbs: 1g Fat: 14g Protein: 13g
Duck eggs are another type that is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to chicken’s eggs.
Duck eggs are larger than chicken’s eggs at almost 1 ½ times the size, and the shells vary in colour, including light blue, grey, or even a blue-green. “Duck egg blue” is a popular colour for furnishing and home decor!
Like quail eggs, duck eggs aren’t quite as easy to find as chicken eggs, but some supermarkets will stock them, and lots of farm shops do too. They are slightly more expensive than a chicken’s egg.
Duck eggs don’t come from the ducks you see on your local river or pond, however. They come from farms, usually from specific duck breeds, such as the Khaki Campbell, or Silver Appleyards!
Duck eggs are very rich and fatty, with nearly double the amount of fat compared to a chicken’s egg. Duck eggs have much higher levels of protein in them, and also lots of omega-3, which means that the benefits of eating duck eggs include promoting healthy brains and hearts!
For another source of omega-3, try cod liver oil.
Per Egg: Calories: 266 Carbs: 1.9g Fat: 19g Protein: 20g
Goose eggs are another great option as a chicken egg alternative; you can easily substitute regular eggs for goose eggs in many recipes, although they are a seasonal byproduct as they are only laid during the spring.
Goose eggs are a lot larger in size, being roughly the equivalent of 3 standard chicken eggs, or 2 duck eggs.
These are pretty rare in mainstream supermarkets and food shops, so your best bet is probably a farm shop or a farmer’s market.
Despite their large size, they don’t differ much from the other eggs we have looked at so far and can be used in exactly the same way.
As you can imagine for an egg of that size, goose eggs contain around 266 calories, which is a considerable amount when you compare it to the 65-70 calories in a chicken’s egg!
Goose eggs are also pretty high in fat, with high amounts of protein too. The vitamin A, D, and E content in these eggs is much higher than a chicken’s!
Try some vitamins for energy if you find that you need to reduce fatigue or boost your vitamin intake!
Per Egg: Calories: 135 Carbs: 1g Fat: 10g Protein: 11g
Although more commonly bred as seasonal meat, turkeys actually produce eggs that are completely edible and also very similar to traditional hen’s eggs.
Surprisingly for a bird the size of a turkey, their eggs aren’t much larger, similar in size to duck eggs.
They are available to buy in some supermarkets, with Waitrose in the UK selling them on a seasonal basis. Turkeys lay eggs relatively infrequently compared to birds like chickens, so their eggs are quite scarce, hence why they’re used more for breeding purposes than as a food source.
Turkey eggs are similar in taste to chicken’s eggs, with a slightly richer, creamier taste. Turkey eggs are also higher in fat and cholesterol.
Per Egg: Calories: 45 Carbs: 0g Fat: 3g Protein: 4g
This type of egg might sound a little unfamiliar, but bantam is a smaller species of chicken. These eggs are very similar to standard chicken’s eggs, but are around half the weight!
A general rule for using bantam eggs is to use three for every two chicken’s eggs you would use, to account for their smaller size. These eggs taste almost identical to chicken’s eggs, making them easy substitutions for a range of recipes and dishes.
The yolk of the bantam egg is quite large in proportion to the rest of the egg, although their smaller overall size means that bantam eggs have fewer calories than chicken’s eggs, with each egg only containing around 45 calories.
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What Are The Benefits of Eating Eggs?
So, we’ve had a quick run through some of the more common varieties of eggs that are available to eat, but what are the main health benefits of eating eggs?
From improving skin health to aiding diabetes, the advantages of this readily available product will appeal to almost everyone, so read on to find out how eating eggs can help you!
#1 - Contributes To Weight Loss
Eggs are a great food to incorporate into your diet if you are trying to lose a little bit of weight.
Whilst you might associate eggs with rich or fatty foods like Eggs Benedict, or as an ingredient in sugary cakes and desserts, eggs can actually provide a low-calorie option for meals that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
Eggs are very filling, which is key when attempting to reach a calorie deficit - the key to losing larger amounts of weight.
Plus, if you eat something healthy which fills you up, you are less likely to snack during the day!
Eggs are also great for boosting your metabolism. This is due to an essential nutrient found within egg yolks: choline.
Choline is made in small amounts within the body but not enough for the numerous biological functions that it contributes to, which is why we need choline in our diets.
Choline helps metabolism within the body by synthesizing a compound necessary for the removal of cholesterol from the liver, and without it, harmful fats can quickly build up. It also contributes to a healthy nervous system, the building of cell membranes, synthesis of DNA structures and more!
It’s important to recognise, however, that your method of cooking might add some calories to your meal, while it is also generally recommended that shorter cooking times will reduce the damage to certain nutrients.
We’ll talk about the healthiest way to cook eggs later on!
#2 - Rich In Vitamins And Minerals
Eggs are absolutely packed with minerals and nutrients that are great for your body! One of the real health benefits of eating eggs is that the nutrition inside them is so varied, so they provide benefits for multiple systems in the body, instead of just focusing on one or two.
Eggs contain vitamin A, which aids the immune system, as well as three different B vitamins which have a whole range of benefits, ranging from digestive health to brain health!
There’s also plenty of protein: eggs have a complete amino acid profile, meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids for healthy bodily functions. This also means that they’re great for building muscle and helping physical endurance.
To learn more about amino acids, check out OriGym’s guide to the benefits, structure, and foods of amino acids.
Eggs also contain other minerals and nutrients like selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant.
We’ll expand on many of these nutrients and their specific benefits further down the list, but it’s good to know that eggs are generally highly nutritious.
#3 - Boosts Hair & Skin Condition
The benefits of eating eggs for your skin largely come from the fatty acids that are so prevalent in the yolk. These fatty acids help the skin stay moisturised, which is great if you are suffering from dry skin!
A real benefit of egg whites, in particular, is that they are very rich in albumin, which is a protein made in the liver and is the most abundant protein within the blood.
It is essential for a number of important bodily functions, including the prevention of build-ups of excessive oil, keeping the pores healthy, and the transportation of nutrients and hormones around the body.
Eggs are also great for your hair as the protein in eggs can be used to build keratin, one of the key structural compounds for hair.
Consuming eggs as part of your regular diet can ensure your body is getting good levels of these important nutrients, ultimately contributing to better skin health and stronger hair.
#4 - Provides Good Cholesterol
There has often been debate over the recommended dietary intake of eggs due to the relatively high level of cholesterol found in the yolks; one egg contains roughly 185mg of cholesterol, with the recommended daily amount being less than 300mg.
Although the cholesterol content is high, this doesn’t necessarily mean eating them will raise the cholesterol levels in your bloodstream.
Low-density lipoproteins, or LDL cholesterol, is the type that can be very dangerous if you consume too much of it, potentially leading to heart attacks or strokes.
High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, is the form of cholesterol that is good for the body as it works to remove the harmful types of cholesterol from the body.
Eggs are actually high in HDL cholesterol: the good kind!
HDL cholesterol can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, so another benefit of eating eggs is that they are a great way to boost your heart’s health and reduce dangerous cholesterols in your body.
Another healthy food that will help your cholesterol levels is eggplant!
#5 - Helps Build Muscle Mass
This is an advantage that a lot of people will be aware of already. The benefits of eating eggs for bodybuilders and athletes have been known for a long time: eggs help to repair and build muscle without adding too many calories or too much fat to meals.
Eggs are really high in protein, which is key to building muscle fibre. For example, 100g of scrambled eggs can provide 10g of protein alone. The importance of higher protein diets is stated in the scientific journal Nutrients:
“Increased protein intake contributes to greater strength and muscle mass gains when coupled with resistance exercise, allows for greater muscle mass preservation when consumed during periods of negative energy balance, limits age-related muscle loss, and, to a lesser extent, provides a greater muscle protein synthetic response when evenly distributed across meals.” (Carbone and Pasiakos, 2019)
For those looking to increase muscle mass eggs can be a low-calorie food to boost protein intake, which is often considered one of the main benefits of eating raw eggs for men looking to build muscle mass.
However, there are lots of other nutrients in eggs that are just as useful when it comes to gaining muscle and strength.
The nutrients in eggs contribute to the body’s production of amino acids, which are vital to muscle growth. Eggs have been proven to improve the rate at which the muscles repair torn fibres after exercise, which is key to the muscles becoming bigger and stronger.
#6 - Great Source Of Protein
So we touched on this a little bit in the section on building muscle mass, but protein is used by the body for a lot of other biological functions too.
Unfortunately, eggs aren’t vegan friendly, so for some effective protein sources that will fit your dietary needs, check out OriGym’s vegan protein sources article.
Aside from muscle growth and repair, and the benefits to hair (keratin is a protein!), there are a number of other functions that use protein, including:
- Fighting off infections
- Keeping bones healthy
- Providing structure to cells and tissues
- Regulating pH levels of fluids in the body
- Maintaining fluid balances
- Transporting nutrients
- Storing nutrients
- Supplying energy
- Blood clotting
- Muscle contractions
Plus, eggs often come at a much more affordable price than a lot of other protein sources, especially specialised powders and supplements, such as casein protein powders or soy protein powders, which can be expensive.
Eggs are a great way to incorporate protein into your diet and keep your body healthy!
#7 - Improves Eye Health
Maintaining the health of our eyesight through what we eat is almost as important as treating our eyes with glasses or contact lenses, and eggs’ nutritional content can contribute to this.
This is largely due to the high prevalence of vitamins and minerals in eggs: a real health benefit of egg yolk, so don’t be tempted to only use the white!
Eggs are full of lutein, a carotenoid that helps to reduce degeneration of the eyes.
Eggs also contain other antioxidants that can help to protect your eyes from the harmful effects of UVF, such as vitamin E, selenium, and iodine. The amount of screen time and exposure we have can really damage your eyes, so make sure you’re taking steps to protect them by eating eggs.
Did you also know that one of the many benefits of the common blueberry is that it can also boost your eye health?
#8 - Beneficial for Diabetics
Diabetes, both type 1 and type 2, puts a lot of strict limits on what foods you can eat; the good news is that eggs are a low carbohydrate, low sugar option that can be eaten by diabetics.
Diabetics have to control the number of carbohydrates and sugar that they eat in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This is because their bodies don’t produce enough, or any, of the essential hormone insulin.
Eggs have almost no carbohydrates and sugar in them meaning they are a great way to get some additional nutrients and protein into the diet without having to calculate insulin ratios or count total carbohydrates!
Eggs will also provide a filling and tasty alternative to carbs which means you’ll be less likely to want to eat something else, which is more of a benefit of eating eggs for type 2 diabetics as this will help them lose weight.
If you’re suffering from diabetes, poaching and boiling eggs are healthy ways to enjoy them!
#9 - Boosts Brain Health
Another benefit of eating eggs includes protecting your brain, again through providing those all-important vitamins and minerals.
Maintaining the health of your brain is vitally important, whether young or old.
Eggs are rich in a nutrient called choline, which is vital to brain health and development. Low levels of choline may lead to decreased brain function as we get older.
The body doesn’t produce sufficient amounts of choline compared to what it uses, so we have to consume choline from different sources!
Fortunately, eggs are a great source of choline, and increasing the number of eggs you consume should help your brain to stay healthy and sharp.
Now we’ve covered some of the health benefits of eating eggs we’re going to answer some more specific questions, such as eating raw eggs, and the best time to eat them.
For nutritional guides on some other common foods, check out a few of OriGym’s other articles:
How Many Eggs A Day?
One of the key aspects of nutrition is knowing the recommended amounts of foods, as well as how much can be dangerous. Even some of the healthiest of foods can have detrimental effects if eaten in excess!
Eggs are the same so it’s important to know how many are safe to eat on a regular basis.
However, the good news is that eggs don’t have strict limits on how many you should eat: you can safely eat a few eggs a day if you wanted to (although you might get tired of them after a while!).
However, there are a few variable factors you should consider when eating eggs. Everyone is different, and so the amount of eggs you should eat is different too.
People who are looking to build a lot of muscle and want to consume higher amounts of protein might eat eggs multiple times a week. Athletes are one group of people who reap the benefits of eating eggs everyday!
Taking l-glutamine is another way to boost your protein intake and improve muscle building!
However, people who are eating eggs for other benefits, might just rather have an egg every couple of days.
In the past, eggs were recommended to be consumed no more than once or twice a week.
However, our understanding of cholesterol has developed, and now it’s accepted that eggs are fine to be eaten more than twice a week, with no impact on the body’s health.
There’s no hard limit on the number of eggs you eat every week: just be sensible and consume them as part of a healthy, balanced diet!
Don't forget your free food diary, you can easily keep track of how many eggs you eat each week!
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When Is the Best Time to Eat Eggs?
Well, that really depends on who you are, and what your goals are.
Eggs are well known as a breakfast food and for good reason! Eggs provide a delicious and nutritious start to the day.
They are low in calories and will keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. Eggs are high on the Satiety Index which means that they keep your hunger satisfied for longer than other foods.
Your body tends to use most of its nutrients for growth and repair when you are sleeping, so refuelling these nutrients with eggs in the morning is a great way to give your body a boost.
The benefits of eating eggs in the morning are pretty well established, but what about the rest of the day?
Well, eggs are a great food to have post-workout. It’s really important to take on nutrient-rich food after you’ve exercised and eggs are a great option due to their high levels of protein. This will help your muscles repair damage and build fibres.
Eggs also make a good snack. They’ll help you to stay full during the day, snacking less on other foods, and are healthier than some other snack options.
There are also some benefits of eating eggs before bed, too: eggs contain all the essential amino acids, and tryptophan in particular is beneficial for sleep. As stated in the journal Nutrients:
“Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, which can cross the blood-brain barrier by competing for transport with other LNAA. Conversion to serotonin is dependent on sufficient precursor availability in the brain, an increase in brain tryptophan occurs when the ratio of free tryptophan to branched chain amino acids increases, following tryptophan conversion to serotonin, melatonin is produced. Dietary sources of tryptophan include milk, turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, beans, peanuts, cheese, and leafy green vegetables. Dietary tryptophan has been shown to improve sleep” (Doherty et, al. 2019)
Eating eggs before bed can provide your body with all the resources it needs for effective rest and repair whilst you sleep.
Another healthy and tasty source of amino acids is coconut water!
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Raw Eggs?
A common conception around the benefits of eating raw eggs for athletes is that this is the best way to get the most protein and nutrients from the egg itself.
One of the main reasons a lot of people avoid consuming raw eggs is the risk of salmonella. This is a nasty bacteria that can be present in some eggs and can make you quite ill. Cooking the eggs generally neutralises this bacteria making them entirely safe to eat, which is why people are often wary of undercooked or raw eggs.
However, this is a bit of an outdated risk now.
In the UK most eggs are now inoculated against salmonella so there is no risk of this bacteria being present, raw or not. These eggs are usually marked with a red lion stamp on the shell.
However, some eggs, like duck eggs or goose eggs, aren’t usually vaccinated against salmonella, so it's probably best not to eat them raw.
That being said, why would you eat a raw egg?
Well in some cases, heating the egg can diminish certain nutrients. However, cooking the egg can also increase the potency of other nutrients.
It’s really a personal preference: some people state that the body absorbs protein from an egg more effectively when it has been cooked. On the other hand, some people advocate more for the benefits of eating raw eggs, but this is mainly for bulking and bodybuilding diets rather than regular diets.
The main point is to not worry too much, as long as you use salmonella-free eggs, consuming them raw is more often than not completely safe.
Side Effects Of Eating Eggs
Probably the most prevalent health issue that crops up when it comes to eggs is their high levels of cholesterol.
However, this is a bit of a myth: whilst eggs are high in cholesterol, it has been proven that consuming eggs won’t cause an increase in harmful cholesterol, as discussed in Eggs as Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals for Human Health:
“Consequently, consuming eggs does not significantly impact blood cholesterol concentration. In parallel, egg consumers especially 6–24 month-old infants eat lower added and total sugars relative to non-consumers, which is likely correlated with its satiety effect. It is now well established that egg can contribute to overall health across the lifespan, although people suffering from metabolic disorders such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, and hypertension still need to take caution with their dietary cholesterol intake.” (Ahnen and Slavin, 2019)
Foods that are high in saturated fats, such as milk chocolate or pastries, are far more dangerous than eggs when it comes to harmful cholesterol. Other than that, there are very few health issues caused by eggs.
Some simple precautions you can take include purchasing British Red Lion eggs, which have been vaccinated against harmful bacteria.
However, if in doubt, cook the egg thoroughly. Eggs can go rotten, but you’ll know if your egg is out of date. It will smell terrible, and you certainly won’t want to eat it!
What Is The Healthiest Way To Cook Eggs?
With such a range of methods of cooking eggs, it can quickly become confusing as to which is actually best for your health. We’re going to explain some pros and cons of the most popular methods so you can determine for yourself which way will work best for you.
Boiling eggs are often considered the most healthy way to cook them as, generally, there are no other added ingredients that could potentially increase fat or salt levels. The benefits of eating boiled eggs include all of the ones mentioned above, with the added benefit of not increasing the total calorie count of the egg!
The benefits of eating poached eggs are exactly the same as that of boiling an egg as this method of cooking doesn’t require additional ingredients and therefore won’t increase the calorie count.
Whilst being a delicious addition to a Full English breakfast, frying your egg is not the healthiest option. By cooking it in oil you’re adding fat and calories to the egg, with a fried egg having roughly 90 calories. Plus if you add salt then you’re decreasing the healthiness of the egg too.
Again, scrambled eggs generally have other ingredients added in that can quickly boost the calorie count. If you add milk to your eggs, try to use semi-skimmed milk to reduce the fat content.
Do you know if milk is keto-friendly? If you follow the keto diet then it's important to know!
Where To Buy Eggs
As we mentioned before, some of the more unusual types of eggs can be more difficult to find.
While some are becoming more popular in supermarkets, many are easiest found at specific farm shops.
Goose eggs, quail eggs, and turkey eggs are now being sold in more accessible places such as Waitrose and Selfridges. However, bantam eggs are still more niche and more easily found directly from farmers.
Before You Go!
So the health benefits of eating eggs are wide-ranging, and due to the increased accessibility, they make a great addition to any diet.
Hopefully, we’ve answered any question you might have about them, detailing the benefits of eating raw eggs for bodybuilding as well as for everyday diets, plus the potential side effects and how many you should be eating a week.
Did you enjoy learning about health and nutrition? If the answer is yes, then why not learn more from OriGym’s level 4 advanced sports nutrition course; you can kickstart your nutrition career and get ahead of the competition!
For some other great options download our FREE course prospectus.
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- Ahnen, R. T., & Slavin, J. L. (2019). CHAPTER 1:Eggs as Part of a Healthy Eating Pattern , in Eggs as Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals for Human Health, 2019, pp. 1-21 DOI: 10.1039/9781788013833-00001
- Carbone, J.W. and Pasiakos, S.M. (2019). Dietary Protein and Muscle Mass: Translating Science to Application and Health Benefit. Nutrients, 11(5), p.1136.
- Doherty, R., Madigan, S., Warrington, G. and Ellis, J. (2019). Sleep and Nutrition Interactions: Implications for Athletes. Nutrients, [online] 11(4), p.822.