An Egg-cellent Choice!


By Alyssa Havlovic, MS, RDN, ACSM EP-C, Extension Educator in Lancaster County

May is here, and it’s National Egg Month. Although eggs haven’t had the best reputation in the past, more recent research shows that eggs are actually a healthy component to any eating pattern.

For decades, we believed we should limit eggs due to their cholesterol content, but the latest research shows that there is no correlation between egg consumption and risk for cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease or stroke. Eggs are a complete source of protein and pack over 20 beneficial nutrients at only 70 calories a piece.

Eggs are a great choice for individuals of all ages across the lifespan. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) specifically recommend eggs as an important first food for infants and toddlers, as well as for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a critical nutrient for fetal brain development, and are one of the most concentrated food sources of choline in the American diet. Choline is not found in high quantities in many foods typically consumed by Americans, but just one large egg provides the daily choline needs for babies and toddlers, and two large eggs provide more than half of daily choline needs for pregnant women. The DGAs highlight the importance of choline and recommend eggs as a first food for babies to reduce risk for an egg allergy.

Eggs are also beneficial for adolescents and teens due to the protein and choline they provide. The high protein in eggs helps repair and maintain muscle health, therefore, supporting bone health for adolescents and adults.

Eggs also offer nutritional benefits for adults and older adults and can be part of a heart-healthy diet. Eggs are a good source of vitamin D, a nutrient most Americans fall short on, according to the dietary guidelines. Egg yolks contain two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids help prevent age-related macular degeneration that can lead to blindness. Another beneficial nutrient from eggs is vitamin B12. Many older adults do not consume enough vitamin B12, but just one large egg can provide 20% of daily needs.

In addition to the nutritional benefits of eggs, they are also quick to prepare and easy on your food budget! With rising protein food costs, eggs remain very affordable with an average cost of less than 20 cents a piece.

We may think of eggs as a traditional breakfast food, but you can eat them any time of day!

For breakfast, you might scramble or fry an egg, make an omelet, add them to a breakfast burrito, on top of toast — the options are endless! For lunch, add hard boiled eggs to a fresh salad or make an egg salad sandwich. For dinner, add them to stir fry dishes and fried rice, enjoy an egg and potato skillet meal or try curried eggs with spinach. Eggs are a great way to vary your protein choices.

Keep yourself and your family safe from foodborne illness by washing your hands and any surfaces or utensils that come in contact with raw eggs. When preparing dishes containing eggs, cook eggs until the white and yolks are firm or an internal temperature of 160°F. Eggs should be kept cool at 33–40°F and should be discarded after two hours if left at room temperature. For best quality, use eggs within 3–5 weeks of the purchase date. Eggs are perfectly safe to use after the “sell-by” date on the carton.