Nutrition and Eggs
Nutritional value of eggs
nutritional value of eggs
Energy value of eggs
A medium egg has an energy value of 66 kilocalories (277 kilojoules) and the consumption of one egg daily would contribute only around 3% of the average energy requirement of an adult.
With their significant protein, vitamin and mineral content and relatively low saturated fat content, eggs are a valuable component in a healthy diet.
Eggs are an important source of high quality protein. On the evaluation scale most commonly used for assessing protein, egg protein is at the highest point, 100, and is used as the reference standard against which all other foods are assessed. This is because of the essential amino acid profile and the high digestibility of egg protein. When assessed against a range of different measures of protein quality (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score; biological value; net protein utilisation; protein efficiency ratio; protein digestibilty) eggs rank consistently high, even against other high quality sources of protein such as beef and cows’ milk .
12.6% of the weight of the edible portion of the egg is protein and it is found in both the yolk and the albumen. Although protein is more concentrated around the yolk, there is in fact more protein in the albumen.
As people age, the loss in muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia), increases in parallel to the rise in body fat. It had been argued that these changes in body composition are related to the a decline in physical activity , but this view has been challenged by research suggesting that poor protein intake and changes in the body’s ability to utilize amino acids with age may also contribute to sarcopenia [3, 4]. Therefore it is possible that an adequate intake of high quality protein from sources such as eggs could help to prevent the degeneration of skeletal muscle in older people.
Egg protein is a rich source of the essential amino acid leucine, which is important in modulating the use of glucose by skeletal muscle and in facilitating muscle recovery after exercise. It has therefore been postulated that this would be advantageous to people undergoing endurance training .
In comparison with other high protein foods, eggs are a relatively inexpensive source of protein .
Eggs contain most of the recognised vitamins with the exception of vitamin C. The egg is a source of all the B vitamins. It is a particularly rich source of vitamins B12 and riboflavin (vitamin B2) and a useful source of folate. The egg is also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins A and D and provides some vitamin E.
Eggs contain many of the minerals that the human body requires for health. In particular eggs are an excellent source of iodine, required to make the thyroid hormone, and selenium, an important antioxidant. The egg is a significant source of phosphorus, required for bone health, and provides some zinc, important for wound healing, growth and fighting infection. Eggs also contain iron, the vital ingredient of red blood cells, although the availability of this iron to the body is still being investigated.
9.0% of the egg content is fat. The fat of an egg is found almost entirely in the yolk; there is less than 0.5% in the albumen.
Most of an egg’s total fatty acid composition is monounsaturated (approximately 38%). About a further 16% is polyunsaturated and only 28% is saturated. An average medium size egg contains 177mg cholesterol, about 12% less than eggs contained twenty years ago.
Eggs also contain cholesterol and lecithin, which are fat-like substances that are essential to the structure and function of all cells in the body. However these substances are not dietary essentials, as our bodies are able to synthesise them. Cholesterol helps to maintain the flexibility and permeability of cell membranes and is also a raw material for the fatty lubricants that help to keep the skin supple. Cholesterol is essential for the production of sex hormones, cortisol, vitamin D and bile salts.
For more information on cholesterol click here.
The nutritional value of eggs and the contribution that they make to the diet is illustrated by the following table. The data on the nutritional content of a single egg is based on a medium egg and all percentage composition figures relate to the contents, excluding the shell. For a medium egg the shell represents 12.8% and the edible portion 87.2% of the total weight of the egg.
Source: Department of Health (2012)
|Nutritional analysis of egg without its shell||For a medium egg (Av 58g)|
|Constituent of Egg||Amount per 100g egg||Amount per egg||% of Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI)¹ provide by 1 egg|
|For adult female 19-50 years||For adult male 19-50 years|
|Saturated fatty acids||g||2.5||1.3||**||**|
|of which DHA||g||0.06||0.03||**||**|
|Minerals and Trace Elements|
|Thiamin (vitamin B1)||mg||0.08||0.04||5||4|
|Riboflavin (vitamin B2)||mg||0.50||0.25||23||19|
1 Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. Department of Health Report on Health and Social Subjects 41, 1991.
2 Assumes edible portion = 87.2%
3 EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) SACN (Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition) Dietary Reference Values for Energy, Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, TSO, London, 2011
4 AI (Adequate Intake) Dietary Reference Intakes, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, National Academies Press, Washington, DC, 2006
**No RNI for fats; dietary reference values are expressed as a percentage of daily energy intake so are not shown here.
***Beyond age 65 years
- Layman KL, Rodriguez NR. Egg protein as a source of power, strength and energy, Nutrition Today, 44, 1, 2009
- Joint WHO/FAO/UNU Expert Consultation Protein and amino acid requirements in Human Nutrition, WHO Technical Report Series 935, Geneva, 2002
- Wolfe RR. The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 84,475-82 2006
- Thalacker-Mercer A E, Fleet J C, Craig B A, Carnell N S, Campbell W W. Inadequate protein intake affects skeletal muscle transcript profiles in older humans, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 85, 1344-1352, 2007
- Ruxton C. New evidence and recommendations for the use of eggs in the diet, Nursing Standard, 19 May 2010.