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Here’s Why You Should Be Eating More Eggs

By Summer Rylander
March 13, 2024
Image credit: Adam Liaw

If beauty lies in simplicity, I think there are few things more lovely than a properly fried egg. That jewel-toned, velvety, running yolk, the lacy, golden edges with their satisfying crackle — the egg truly is the essence of understated culinary perfection. Eggs are also inexpensive, versatile, quick, and easy to cook. And although there have been some eras in which their health merits were maligned, the truth is, they’re genuinely good for you.

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Eggs are full of vitamins and minerals

Despite eggs’ checkered past — largely thanks to the American Heart Association’s 1968 recommendation that adults consume no more than three eggs each week due to cholesterol concerns — they’re actually a powerhouse of nutrients.

“Eggs are a great source of vitamin D, folate, vitamin B2, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B12, and iron,” says certified nutritionist Natasha Funderburk

Dietary cholesterol ≠ higher cholesterol

Eggs do have cholesterol in the yolk (one large egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol), but eggs — and dietary cholesterol in general — are no longer considered the culprit for most people. According to a 2019 advisory by the AHA, research generally doesn’t support a connection between dietary cholesterol and risk of cardiovascular events.

The protein gold standard 

Funderburk also notes that eggs contain some of the highest-quality protein we can eat. One reason is that “Egg protein has been recognized to be highly digestible and an excellent source of essential amino acids, with the highest attainable protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score,” according to a 2022 analysis published in the journal Nutrients.

Read next: 3 Things Everyone Should Know About Fat

One of those important essential amino acids is leucine, a key player in metabolic functions, including the regulation of blood sugars, protein synthesis, and tissue repair. Eggs have about 1.09 grams of leucine per 100-gram portion, which makes them an easy source of this vital protein building block.

Deciphering egg carton jargon

Sometimes when walking down the egg aisle, it feels like you need a Master’s to decipher all the different labels. Cage free, organic, free range — all these terms mean different things, and have varying price tags to match. 

“We have to be cautious about implying that specific labels or certifications (USDA organic, for example, or ‘cage-free’) is nutritionally or environmentally superior,” says Cara Harbstreet, MS RD LD. “Those labels can be misleading, or tell an incomplete story about where that food came from.” 

Though USDA organic regulations do stipulate that egg-producing hens must be fed organic, pesticide-free foods and have housing conditions that are adequate to provide shelter and room to move around, “adequate” is largely subject to interpretation. As reported in a 2016 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, just one square foot of room is considered sufficient for cage-free indoor hens, and two square feet suffices for so-called “free-range” birds outdoors. This is an improvement over confining battery cages that don’t even allow hens to stretch their wings, yes, but just seeing “cage-free” and “free range” on an egg carton doesn’t mean the chickens were happily frolicking around on open pasture. 

Supporting local farmers or otherwise taking care to source eggs from a producer that aligns with your values is certainly a meaningful effort. You can look for third-party certifications such as Certified Humane or Certified Animal Welfare Approved for more assurance. It’s also good to remember that the nutritional benefits of eggs remain intact no matter the price tag.

“Healthwise, the benefits of higher-priced eggs are likely negligible for most people,” says Harbstreet.

Creative ways to enjoy eggs

Because they’re so versatile and budget-friendly, it’s easy to add more eggs to your diet. Enjoy them for breakfast, sure, but eggs are great anytime thanks to their adaptable flavor and choose-your-own-adventure texture. 

Harbstreet explains that eggs can enhance meals and snacks because our perception of flavor is intensified in the presence of fat — like that found in the richness of an egg yolk. “Improved mouthfeel, flavor, and fullness are essential components of sustainable diet patterns,” she adds. 

So toss a poached or olive oil-fried egg over your lunchtime lentils, top a salad with a hardboiled egg, or scramble a few eggs for an easy, no-fuss dinner.

Looking for more specific recipe ideas? Try these healthy, egg-centric options that go beyond breakfast:

1. Mediterranean egg salad

Boiled eggs and avocado join forces with cucumber and tomato for this ultra-healthy but definitely-not-boring Mediterranean egg salad. Red onions, sumac, and aleppo pepper add a punch of flavor — and you can crumble in feta or add chunks of fresh mozzarella for an even more indulgent lunch. (If you don’t have aleppo pepper on hand, you can sub in red pepper flakes, too.)

2. Ramen eggs (Ajitsuke tamago)

A ramen egg (or three) would be at the top of my last-meal list. I love these slightly sweet, salty marinated eggs as a snack, and they’re also a welcome addition to almost any soup, salad, or toast. Of course, they’re also delicious in ramen. 

3. Baked vegetable frittata 

Frittatas are a great way to use up any vegetables languishing in the fridge, along with bits of stray cheese, herbs, and whatever spices are in your pantry. This recipe offers five specific variations, but once you’ve established the basics of a frittata — whisked eggs with a little milk of your choice — you can incorporate the seasonings, herbs, and veggies of your choice. It’s a low-effort, flexible, inexpensive, tasty meal that’s also very nourishing.

4. Tomato + egg stir fry

Another iconic tomato-egg duo, this delicious stir fry is perfect for a weeknight dinner: It’s quick, requires minimal ingredients, and it’s comforting. Some rice on the side is all you need to round out the meal.

5. Shakshuka

A wonderfully savory, nourishing dish of tomatoes, spices, and eggs, shakshuka shines on the brunch table — but it’s a perfect addition to your healthy dinner rotation, too. Enjoy it with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce and runny yolks.

Read next: 5 Questions You Probably Have About Hard Boiled Eggs

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