Eggs are an incredibly versatile food. From scrambled to poached, there are many ways to cook an egg exactly the way you like.

They’re not just for breakfast either. Eggs are used in a variety of foods, including:

  • baked goods
  • salads
  • sandwiches
  • ice cream
  • soups
  • stir-fries
  • sauces
  • casseroles

Since you might be eating eggs on a regular basis, any health-conscious person should know about their nutrition.

Fortunately, eggs are healthier and lower in calories than most people think!

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), there are about 72 calories in a large egg. A large egg weighs 50 grams (g).

The exact number depends on the size of an egg. You can expect a small egg to have slightly fewer than 72 calories and an extra-large egg to have slightly more.

Here’s a general breakdown by size:

  • small egg (38 g): 54 calories
  • medium egg (44 g): 63 calories
  • large egg (50 g): 72 calories
  • extra-large egg (56 g): 80 calories
  • jumbo egg (63 g): 90 calories
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Keep in mind that this is for an egg with no added ingredients.

Once you start adding oil or butter to a frying pan to cook the egg, or serve it alongside bacon, sausage, or cheese, the calorie count increases dramatically.

There’s a pretty big difference in calories between the egg white and the egg yolk. The yolk of a large egg contains about 55 calories while the white part contains just 17.

An egg’s nutrition profile is about more than just its calorie count, however.

Eggs are an incredibly well-rounded food and contain a wealth of healthy nutrients. Like calories, the nutritional content varies greatly between the yolks and egg whites.

Protein is essential for growth, health, and repair. It’s also needed to make hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.

There are 6.28 g of protein in one large egg, and 3.6 g are found in the egg white. This is a lot of protein!

The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 0.8 g of protein per kilogram (kg) of body weight.

For example, a person who weighs 140 pounds (63.5 kg) needs about 51 g of protein per day. A single egg would provide nearly 12 percent of this person’s daily protein needs.

You can use this handy calculator from the USDA to figure out how much protein you need each day to stay healthy.

About half of the calories in an egg come from fat. One large egg has a little less than 5 g of fat, which is concentrated in the egg yolk. About 1.6 g is saturated fat.

Egg yolks also contain healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation in the body and may lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

They’re highly concentrated in the brain and have been shown to be important for cognition and memory.

The exact amount of omega-3s varies depending on the specific diet of the hen that produced that egg. Some hens are fed a diet supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids.

In the grocery store, look for eggs labeled omega-3 or DHA. DHA is a type of omega-3.

You may have heard that egg yolks have a lot of cholesterol. The average large egg contains 186 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol.

It’s a common misconception that eggs are “bad for you” because of the cholesterol content. Not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol actually serves several vital functions in the body. Most people can eat an egg or two every day without having a problem with their cholesterol levels.

If your cholesterol is already high or you have diabetes, you can still eat eggs in moderation (four to six per week) without any problems. However, make sure you don’t consistently eat other foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, or cholesterol.

Eggs contain very little carbohydrates, with only .36 g per large egg. They’re not a source of sugar or fiber.

A variety of vitamins and minerals can be found in eggs.

Vitamins

Eggs are a great source of B vitamins, especially vitamins B-2 (riboflavin) and B-12 (cobalamin).

Vitamin B-12 is used by the body to make DNA, the genetic material in all of our cells. It also keeps our body’s nerve and blood cells healthy, protects against heart disease, and prevents a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia.

Only animal foods contain vitamin B-12 naturally. If you’re a vegetarian who doesn’t eat meat, eggs are a good way to make sure you still get some B-12.

Eggs also contain a fair amount of vitamins A, D, and E, as well as folate, biotin, and choline. Most of the vitamins in an egg, except riboflavin, are found in the yolk.

Choline is an important vitamin for the normal functioning of all cells in your body. It assures the functions of cell membranes, especially in the brain. It’s needed in higher amounts during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

A large egg has roughly 147 mg of choline, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Minerals

Eggs are also a good source of selenium, calcium, iodine, and phosphorous.

The antioxidant selenium helps protect the body against free radical damage that’s been associated with aging, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.

Eggs are one of the eight types of foods considered to be a major food allergen. Symptoms of an egg allergy that might appear right after eating one include:

Raw eggs aren’t considered safe to eat. This is because of the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria known as Salmonella.

Some people do eat raw eggs, as the risk of Salmonella contamination is very low in the United States. Still, it may not be a risk worth taking.

Salmonella poisoning can cause fever, cramps, and dehydration. Infants, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at an increased risk for serious illness.

The best way to prevent Salmonella poisoning is to refrigerate store-bought eggs as soon as you get home and to make sure to cook your eggs thoroughly, to at least 160°F (71.1°F), before eating.

If you’re going to eat raw or undercooked eggs, opt for pasteurized eggs.

Eggs may be cooked many different ways. You can boil them in their shell to make a hard-boiled egg. You can fry eggs, make an omelet or frittata, or just have them scrambled, poached, or pickled.

Eggs can be used in recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert too! Here’s just a handful of the countless ways to cook with eggs:

Green vegetable frittata

Frittatas are perfect for a quick dinner or weekend brunch. Include vegetables such as spinach and zucchini. Leave out the yolks for a lower-calorie version, like this recipe from “The Healthy Chef.”

View the recipe.

Baked eggs in avocado with bacon

The combination of egg with avocado is pure bliss. Try this recipe for baked eggs in avocado with bacon from “White on Rice Couple” for your next hearty breakfast.

View the recipe.

Creamy corn gratin

Eggs are a big part of this prepare-ahead creamy corn gratin side dish from the professional chef behind the blog “Easy and Delish.”

View the recipe.

Jalapeno egg salad

Egg salads can get old quickly. Go off the beaten path with this spiced-up version of the classic egg salad from “Homesick Texan.”

View the recipe.

3 ingredient flourless chocolate cake

No recipe list is complete without a dessert! Flourless chocolate cake is both gluten-free and relatively high in protein. Plus, there are only three ingredients in this recipe from “Kirbie’s Cravings.”

View the recipe.

A single large egg contains roughly 72 calories: 17 in the whites and 55 in the yolks. Eating a large egg would account for fewer than 4 percent of the calories in a 2,000-calorie diet.

Eggs are a rich source of:

  • protein
  • choline
  • B vitamins, including B-12
  • omega-3 fatty acids, depending on the diet of the hen

The vitamins, nutrients, and minerals found in eggs can help you:

  • build and repair muscles and organs
  • enhance your memory, brain development, and brain function
  • protect against heart disease
  • prevent anemia
  • grow healthy and strong hair and nails

In general, the white part of the egg is the best source of protein, with very few calories. The egg yolk carries the cholesterol, fats, and the bulk of the overall calories. It also contains the choline, vitamins, and minerals.

If you’re looking for a way to add some protein, vitamins, and healthy fats to your diet without adding too many calories, eggs are an excellent choice.


Jacquelyn has been a writer and research analyst in the health and pharmaceutical space since she graduated with a degree in biology from Cornell University. A native of Long Island, NY, she moved to San Francisco after college, and then took a brief hiatus to travel the world. In 2015, Jacquelyn relocated from sunny California to sunnier Gainesville, Florida where she owns 7 acres and 58 fruit trees. She loves chocolate, pizza, hiking, yoga, soccer, and Brazilian capoeira.