What part of the egg can you not eat?
Are Eggs Healthy?: Benefits and Nutrition
A lot of misconceptions exist about eating eggs daily.
Amanda MacMillan is a health and science writer and editor. Her work appears across brands like Health, Prevention, SELF, O Magazine, Travel + Leisure, Time Out New York, and National Geographic’s The Green Guide.
Updated on March 1, 2023
Medically reviewed by
Elizabeth Barnes, MS, RDN, LDN, is a dietitian with a focus on treating clients with eating disorders and disordered eating to help them to mend their relationship with food and their bodies.
When it comes to foods with confusing health messages, eggs may take the cake. Despite being a breakfast and baking staple, in 1968, the American Heart Association (AHA) advised limiting egg consumption to less than three eggs per week.
At that time, the AHA cited the concern that eggs could raise cholesterol and contribute to heart disease. However, by 2015, most health promotion agencies had dropped egg restrictions.
So is it really okay—healthy, even—to eat eggs daily? For the bottom line on this misunderstood topic, Health spoke with Peter Schulman, MD, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of Connecticut.
Eggs are a staple breakfast item that might provide some health benefits. For example, eggs help increase «good» cholesterol levels and may protect against heart disease.
Increase ‘Good’ Cholesterol Levels
Eggs have more cholesterol than other foods, with about 186 milligrams in one large egg. Cholesterol is a substance in your blood, made in the liver and found in food. Cholesterol isn’t bad. However, having too much of it can build up in your body and raise your risk of heart disease.
«Now, we know that what really raises your cholesterol is saturated fat in the diet and not so much the cholesterol in foods,» explained Dr. Schulman. Saturated fat is found in butter, milk, ice cream, cheese, and meat.
«When we eat cholesterol, it’s broken down in the gut. It’s not absorbed as a whole cholesterol molecule,» said Dr. Schulman.
Meanwhile, the body breaks down saturated fats into short chains of fatty acids. Fatty acids make up the fat in our foods and bodies. The gallbladder breaks down fat into fatty acids that the body absorbs. Fatty acids chains can link, which significantly increases cholesterol levels.
Another thing to consider is the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol ratio to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. LDL is «bad» cholesterol. In contrast, HDL is «good» cholesterol.
«Eggs raise the HDL to a greater extent than it does the LDL, which leads to a more favorable risk profile when it comes to cardiovascular risk,» noted Dr. Schulman.
Might Protect Against Heart Disease and Stroke
On top of cholesterol’s effects on the body, a study published in 2018 in Heart found that people who eat eggs aren’t worse off than those who don’t. In fact, the researchers did not find a connection between one-a-day egg consumption and heart disease, even in people whose genetics put them at high risk.
The researchers noted that eggs may even have a protective effect. People who ate up to one egg per day had an 11% lower risk of heart disease—and an 18% lower risk of dying from it—than those who did not.
People who ate eggs daily also had a 26% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke than others. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when blood vessels rupture and cause bleeding in the brain.
One large raw egg contains the following nutrients:
|Are Eggs Healthy?|
Source: Department of Agriculture
Eggs are a good source of protein, which helps make and repair your body’s cells. Also, high-protein foods give you energy and keep you full.
«If you eat a breakfast that’s only high in carbohydrates and no protein, you’re going to be hungry again very quickly,» said Dr. Schulman. Instead, choose high-fiber carbs, like oatmeal, and add an egg or two for staying power, advised Dr. Schulman.
Also, eggs contain choline, vitamins E and D, and folate, which each play key roles in the body. Choline is an essential nutrient that helps with memory, mood, and muscle control. Vitamin E protects your cells from damage. Vitamin D helps build bones and fight infections. Lastly, folate helps make red blood cells.
Egg allergies are one of the most common food allergies among children. People with an egg allergy should avoid consuming eggs. Still, some evidence suggests that cooked egg yolks have less protein and are less likely to cause an allergic reaction than egg whites.
Also, consuming raw or undercooked eggs increases the risk of foodborne illness. Foodborne illness may cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Older adults, children, people with weak immune systems, and pregnant people are at risk of having complications from foodborne illnesses.
For example, in pregnant people, Salmonella infection may increase preterm delivery and impact fetal growth. Rarely, Salmonella infection causes bacteria to enter the bloodstream, also known as bacteremia. Bacteremia raises the risk of miscarriage. The infection can also transmit to the fetus and cause sepsis, which is a blood infection.
Vegan eggs are a sustainable option for people with egg allergies, those at risk of foodborne illness, and vegans. Some evidence suggests that vegan eggs can provide the same nutritional value as hen’s eggs.
Tips for Consuming Eggs
Instead of storing fresh eggs in a tray or on the fridge door shelf, keep them in their carton. Storing fresh eggs in their carton in the refrigerator will keep them fresh for about three to five weeks.
There are several ways to prepare and eat eggs, including hard-boiled, scrambled, fried, and more. Try some of the following recipes to add eggs to your diet:
- Scramble eggs with a side of fruit and a healthy carb, like whole-grain toast.
- Cook a protein-packed vegetarian hash for breakfast.
- For lunch or dinner, top a salad with scrambled or hard-boiled eggs.
A Quick Review
While eggs contain cholesterol, they are unlikely to cause heart disease. On the contrary, eggs can be beneficial to your diet. However, consuming eggs may not be for everyone, especially people with egg allergies, those at risk of foodborne illness, and vegans.
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Safe eating during cancer treatment
Some raw foods can contain germs that can hurt you when cancer or treatment weakens your immune system. Ask your health care provider about how to eat well and safely.
Eggs can have bacteria called Salmonella on their inside and outside. This is why eggs should be cooked completely before eating.
- Yolks and whites should be cooked solid. Do not eat runny eggs.
- Do not eat foods that may have raw eggs in them (such as certain Caesar salad dressings, cookie dough, cake batter, and hollandaise sauce).
Be careful when you have dairy products:
- All milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy should have the word pasteurized on their containers.
- Do not eat soft cheeses or cheeses with blue veins (such as Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Bleu).
- Do not eat Mexican-style cheeses (such as Queso Blanco fresco and Cotija).
Fruits and vegetables:
- Wash all raw fruits, vegetables, and fresh herbs with cold running water.
- Do not eat raw vegetable sprouts (such as alfalfa and mung bean).
- Do not use fresh salsa or salad dressings that are kept in the refrigerated cases of the grocery store.
- Drink only juice that says pasteurized on the container.
Do not eat raw honey. Eat only heat-treated honey. Avoid sweets that have creamy fillings.
Cook Foods Safely
When you cook, make sure you cook your food long enough.
Do not eat uncooked tofu. Cook tofu for at least 5 minutes.
When eating chicken and other poultry, cook to a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a food thermometer to measure the thickest part of the meat.
If you cook beef, lamb, pork, or venison:
- Make sure meat is not red or pink before you eat it.
- Cook meat to 160°F (74°C).
When eating fish, oysters, and other shellfish:
- Do not eat raw fish (such as sushi or sashimi), raw oysters, or any other raw shellfish.
- Make sure all fish and shellfish you eat are cooked thoroughly.
Heat all casseroles to 165°F (73.9°C). Warm hot dogs and lunch meats to steaming before you eat them.
Be Careful When You Eat Out
When you dine out, stay away from:
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Salad bars, buffets, sidewalk vendors, potlucks, and delis
Ask if all fruit juices are pasteurized.
Use only salad dressings, sauces, and salsas from single-serving packages. Eat out at times when restaurants are less crowded. Always ask for your food to be prepared fresh, even at fast food restaurants.
Freifeld AG, Kaul DR. Infection in the patient with cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.
National Cancer Institute website. Nutrition in cancer care (PDQ) — health professional version.
. Updated March 23, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts.
. Updated June 23, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.
Last reviewed on: 1/25/2022
Reviewed by: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
Hen’s egg allergy is among the most common food allergies in infants and young children, but is less common in older children and adults. Most children eventually outgrow their allergy to egg (71% by 6 years of age), 1 although some individuals remain allergic to egg throughout their lives.
When a person with an egg allergy is exposed to egg, proteins in the egg bind to specific IgE antibodies made by the person’s immune system. This triggers the person’s immune defenses, leading to reaction symptoms that can be mild or very severe.
Approximately 70% of children with egg allergy tolerate baked egg. 2 Heating disrupts the protein responsible for egg allergy. The safe and regular ingestion of baked egg foods can lead to tolerance or resolution of egg allergy over time. 3 Speak to your allergist before trialing baked egg products at home.
Experts estimate that as many as 2 percent of children are allergic to eggs.
Living With Egg Allergy
Symptoms of an egg allergy reaction can range from mild, such as hives, to severe, such as anaphylaxis. Allergic reactions can be unpredictable, and even very small amounts of egg can cause one.
If you have an egg allergy, keep an epinephrine injection device with you at all times. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis.
To prevent a reaction, it is very important that you avoid eggs and egg products. Always read food labels and ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you have not prepared yourself.
The whites of an egg contain the proteins that most commonly cause allergic reactions to egg. If you have an egg allergy, you must avoid eggs completely (both the egg white and the egg yolk). Even if you aren’t allergic to egg yolk proteins, it is impossible to separate the egg white completely from the yolk. Cross-contact will always be a concern.
If you are allergic to chicken eggs, your doctor may recommend you also avoid eggs from other domestic animals. Eggs from birds such as ducks, geese, turkeys and quails can cause a cross-reaction.
Egg is one of the eight major allergens that must be listed in plain language on packaged foods sold in the U.S., as required by federal law, either within the ingredient list or in a separate “Contains” statement on the package. This makes it easy to see if egg is present in a food item.
Avoid foods that contain eggs or any of these ingredients:
- Albumin (also spelled albumen)
- Avidin globulin
- Egg (dried, powdered, solids, white, yolk)
- Meringue (meringue powder)
Eggs are sometimes found in the following:
- Baked goods (although some people can tolerate these foods—consult with your allergist)
- Breakfast foods (e.g. pancakes, waffles)
- Breads (may be coated with an egg wash)
- Cake decorations or fillings (e.g. buttercream, frosting, mousse)
- Egg substitutes
- Ice cream, custard, sorbet
- Pasta: Most commercially made cooked pastas (including those in prepared foods such as soup) contain egg. Boxed, dry pastas are usually egg-free. But these types of pasta may be processed on equipment that is also used for egg-containing products. Fresh pasta is sometimes egg-free, too. Read the label or ask about ingredients before eating any pasta.
- Pretzels (sometimes covered in egg wash before they are dipped in salt)
- Salad dressings
- Souffle Specialty coffee drinks and bar drinks (eggs can be used in the foam or topping)
Allergens are not always present in these foods and products, but egg protein can appear in surprising places. Again, read food labels and ask questions if you’re ever unsure about an item’s ingredients.
Ingestion of baked forms of eggs may help lead to tolerance or resolution of the allergy with time. Be sure to speak to your practitioner about a formal baked egg challenge before trialing at home.