Here’s Why You Should Be Eating More Eggs (+ 5 Egg Recipes That Go Way Beyond Breakfast)
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.
Eggs are full of vitamins and minerals
Despite the noble egg’s 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 Funderburk says eggs aren’t really the problem when it comes to your cholesterol levels. “Your overall diet, and the amount of saturated fat you’re eating as a whole will have the biggest impact on cholesterol levels,” she says.
In other words, keeping an eye on your overall intake of saturated fat — which is linked to raised blood cholesterol levels — will have a greater impact on your health than the sole act of avoiding eggs. Saturated fats can be found in red meat, fried foods, dairy products, and more.
They’re the protein gold standard
Funderburk also notes that eggs contain some of the highest-quality protein we can eat — a claim backed by food science journal Nutrition Today, which cites eggs as a traditional “standard of comparison for measuring protein quality because of their essential amino acid (EAA) profile and high digestibility” in a 2009 deep-dive into egg protein.
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One of those important EAAs 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.
The cage-free debate
It’s true that animal welfare and working conditions on factory farms are often abysmal, and choosing to spend money on eggs marked “organic” or “free-range” might mean we’re sending a signal with our hard-earned dollars — but not necessarily.
“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 if terms like “cage-free” and “free range” elicit images of happy chickens frolicing across open fields — think again.
That said, supporting local farmers or otherwise taking care to source eggs from a producer that aligns with your values is certainly a meaningful effort. And fortunately, because selectiveness when it comes to food isn’t an option for everyone, it’s 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.
Something for (almost) everyone
Because they’re so versatile and budget-friendly, unless you adhere to vegan eating principles, 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 when fat — like that found in the glorious richness of an egg yolk — is present. “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:
Boiled eggs and avocado join forces with cucumber and tomato for this ultra-healthy but definitely-not-boring 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.)
A ramen egg (or three) would be at the top of my last-meal list. I love these as a snack, but I welcome their addition to almost any soup, salad, or toast situation I can think of. And their use in actual ramen is, of course, a given.
Frittatas are one of my favorite ways to use up whichever vegetables are languishing in my fridge while still feeling like I’ve put in the effort to make something special for dinner. This recipe offers five variations, but once you’ve established the basics of a frittata — whisked eggs with a little milk of your choice (unsweetened oat milk is my pick) — you can incorporate the seasonings, herbs, and veggies of your choice. Tidy up while the frittata bakes, and enjoy a low-effort, wholesome meal.
Another iconic tomato-egg duo, this delicious stir fry is perfect for a weeknight dinner thanks to its quick preparation and minimal ingredient list. Wedges of tomato soften into fluffy eggs, creating a comforting meal in just minutes.
With roots as far back as the Ottoman Empire, the shakshuka we know and love today is thanks to variations developed across North Africa and the Middle East. A wonderfully savory, nourishing dish of tomatoes, spices, and poached eggs, shakshuka shines on the brunch table — but it’s a perfect addition to your healthy dinner rotation, too.
Egg cooking 101
I’d be remiss to encourage your egg consumption and not include a few pointers on how to optimize preparation. So whether you’re trying to perfect your poach or master a silky scramble, here’s the low-down:
Poached eggs are a luxurious topping for grains, salads, toasts, and much more. This guide runs through all the conventional tricks — such as whether it helps to use a sieve or a ramekin, and if creating a vortex in which to drop the egg is actually a good idea — and will help you turn out beautifully poached eggs with just a tiny bit of patience.
Boiling an egg sounds simple enough, but unless your favorite version is the one with a chalky, crumbly yolk surrounded by a ring of greyish green (which, by the way, is harmless despite its unappealing appearance), it’s worth brushing up on timing and technique.
Scrambled eggs can be downright divisive. I believe a high-heat, firm scramble with a little browning action has its place, while others insist on custard-level creaminess from every curd. But it all depends on the mood and the context, so try this recipe for a soft scramble that won’t take all day but will definitely be delicious.
Omelettes, too, are a personal affair. Whether you prefer yours pure or filled with the likes of sautéed mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatoes, or the grated remains of a hunk of cheese (or all of the above), this recipe is a great place to start.
The thing about a “fried” egg is that it sounds like the least healthy method of preparation, but it’s really just another delicious cooking technique. A high-quality nonstick pan will help you fry eggs with less oil, and this recipe shows you four ways to do it.
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