Eggs are an incredibly versatile food. From scrambling to poaching, there are many ways to cook an egg to suit your taste preferences.
Although they’re a popular breakfast food, they’re also a fantastic addition to lunch and dinner meals like salads, soups, sandwiches, stir-fries, and more.
If you eat eggs often, you may wonder about their calorie content and nutritional profile. This article explains everything you need to know about egg nutrition.
Calorie breakdown of an egg
The number of calories in an egg depends on its size. Perhaps unsurprisingly, you can expect a small egg to have slightly fewer calories than a large one.
Here’s a general breakdown by size. The calories in each size are based on a large egg containing 72 calories per 50 grams:
- Small egg (38 grams): 54 calories
- Medium egg (44 grams): 63 calories
- Large egg (50 grams): 72 calories
- Extra-large egg (56 grams): 80 calories
- Jumbo egg (63 grams): 90 calories
Keep in mind that this is for a whole, plain egg with no added ingredients.
Once you add oil or butter to a frying pan to cook the egg or serve it alongside bacon, sausage, or cheese, the calorie count increases.
For example, a large egg cooked in 1 tablespoon (14 grams) of butter has approximately 174 calories.
An omelet with 3 eggs and cheese cooked in butter has about 400 calories. Eggs Benedict, comprising 2 poached eggs with an English muffin, Canadian bacon, and hollandaise sauce, has closer to 900 calories.
Egg yolks also have a different calorie count than egg whites. The yolk of a large egg (17 grams) contains 56 calories, while the white of a large egg (34 grams) contains 18 calories.
However, just because egg whites are lower in calories, they’re not necessarily healthier than egg yolks. Your body needs adequate calories every day to function optimally and help you feel your best.
Choosing foods based solely on their calorie content isn’t the way to approach healthy eating. Instead, prioritize foods based on their nutrient density, which is how nutrient-dense food is in relation to its calorie content.
Summary: A large egg has about 72 calories. Smaller eggs have slightly fewer calories, while larger eggs have more. Adding other ingredients during preparation, like cheese or butter, increases the calorie content.
Nutritional facts of an egg
An egg’s nutritional profile is about more than just the calorie count. Eggs are an incredibly well-rounded food, providing a wealth of healthy nutrients.
Here’s the nutritional profile for a whole, large egg (63 grams):
- Calories: 72
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 5 grams
- Carbs: less than 1 gram
- Choline: 31% of the daily value
- Selenium: 28% of the daily value
- Vitamin B12: 21% of the daily value
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 16% of the daily value
- Vitamin D: 6% of the daily value
- Iron: 5% of the daily value
Eggs provide high-quality protein alongside many important vitamins and minerals. They’re one of only a few foods that provide vitamin D, a nutrient that’s vital for healthy bones, immunity, cell growth, and more.
Selenium is another important nutrient found in eggs. Among other benefits, this trace mineral is important for reproductive health and the production of thyroid hormones.
Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two compounds known as carotenoids. They act as antioxidants and help protect your eyes from damage and conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts.
Keep in mind that many of the nutrients in eggs are found in the yolk. Eating just egg whites won’t provide the same nutrients.
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Summary: Eggs provide protein, fat, many vitamins and minerals, and carotenoid compounds.
Benefits of eggs
Thanks to the variety of nutrients that eggs contain, eating them may be associated with benefits.
First, adding eggs to your diet is a great way to meet your protein needs. Eggs are considered a complete protein, meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids — the building blocks of protein — that your body needs for optimal growth, health, and repair.
Eating foods with protein can help keep you feeling full between meals and may support weight loss.
Some studies suggest that eating eggs at breakfast reduces hunger sensations more than eating cereal. It remains unclear whether this effect translates to weight loss.
Regularly adding eggs to your diet can also help you meet your nutrient needs. Eggs contain a variety of macro- and micronutrients that are important for growth and health.
One study found that adults who consumed whole eggs had greater intakes of protein, fats, zinc, selenium, and choline compared with those who didn’t eat eggs.
Similarly, a study in infants associated egg intake with higher consumption of selenium, choline, vitamin B12, and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Eating eggs to meet your choline needs may be particularly pertinent, considering that many people get too little of this nutrient.
This essential nutrient is vital for brain development, cell signaling, and the transmission of nerve impulses. It’s especially important that people who are pregnant and breastfeeding get enough choline for the healthy development of their baby.
Overall, eggs are an excellent food to enjoy thanks to their variety of important nutrients.
Summary: Eggs not only contain high quality protein but also many nutrients. Eating them can help you meet your needs for certain macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Possible downsides of eggs
Although eating eggs has its benefits, there are also downsides to consider.
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Eating too many eggs could increase heart disease risk
For decades, eggs were considered dangerous for the heart due to their relatively high amounts of cholesterol.
It was believed that eating high cholesterol foods increased blood cholesterol levels. A high blood level of cholesterol — LDL (bad) cholesterol, in particular — is a risk factor for heart disease.
However, more recent research has not found a clear association between egg intake and heart disease risk.
Some studies suggest that eating up to one egg per day is not linked to an increased risk of heart disease. It may even reduce the risk of stroke.
However, eating more than one egg per day might increase blood cholesterol levels and theoretically increase heart disease risk. In addition, some research has associated egg consumption with higher rates of death from heart disease.
Moderate egg consumption, such as one egg per day or seven per week, is likely safe and healthy for most people. It’s unclear whether eating more poses risks to certain people, such as those at risk of heart disease.
Cholesterol is concentrated in the egg yolk. If you’re watching your cholesterol intake, mixing egg whites with whole eggs is one way to cut back on cholesterol from eggs.
It’s also worth noting that a small percentage of people known as hyper-responders are more affected by dietary cholesterol than others. For these individuals, eating eggs daily may lead to larger increases in blood cholesterol levels, compared with non-hyper-responders.
Regardless, keep in mind that overall diet quality and lifestyle are what matter most regarding the prevention of certain diseases. Typically, cholesterol and other individual nutrients are not solely to blame for disease progression.
Raw eggs can cause food poisoning
There are food safety concerns related to eating raw or undercooked eggs.
Raw eggs aren’t considered safe to eat due to the risk of contamination with a harmful genus of bacteria called Salmonella.
Salmonella food poisoning can cause fever, cramps, and dehydration. Infants, older adults, those who are pregnant, and people with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk of serious illness.
The best way to prevent salmonella sickness is to refrigerate store-bought eggs as soon as you get home and make sure to cook them thoroughly before eating them. They should reach a core temperature of at least 160°F (71.1°C).
If you’re going to use and eat raw or undercooked eggs, such as in some dessert recipes, opt for pasteurized versions to be safe.
Summary: Since eggs are high in cholesterol, they’ve historically been claimed to raise blood cholesterol and increase heart disease risk. Today, moderate egg consumption appears to be safe. Eating raw or undercooked eggs can present food safety risks.
One large egg provides roughly 72 calories — but eggs are much more than their calorie content.
Whole eggs are a rich source of protein, choline, selenium, and several other nutrients and beneficial compounds. If you’re looking for a way to add these nutrients to your diet, eggs are an excellent choice.
Try eggs in frittatas or hashes for breakfast, egg salad for lunch or dinner, and baked goods for dessert.
Try this today
Prepping eggs in advance can be an easy way to add more of them to your diet. To hard-boil eggs, simply:
- Place them in the bottom of a saucepan and cover them with water.
- Bring the water to a boil and cook for 6–9 minutes.
- Drain and transfer to cold water to cool.
You can store them for about a week in the fridge, where they’ll be ready to peel and pop into salads, sandwiches, or any other dishes you’d like.