If you’re looking to add more protein and nutrients to your diet, eggs are a nutritious slam dunk.
They contain important micro and macronutrients and have shown up in their fair share of scientific studies.
However, the nutrition profile of raw eggs and the nutrition profile of cooked eggs have some marked differences, including the fact that eating raw eggs or foods containing them raises concerns about the risk of contracting a Salmonella infection (
Here are some of the health benefits — and health concerns — around eating raw eggs.
Just like cooked eggs, raw eggs are extremely nutritious.
They’re rich in:
- high-quality protein
- healthy fats
- eye-protecting antioxidants
- various other nutrients
One whole, large raw egg contains (
- protein: 6 grams
- fat: 5 grams
- magnesium: 6 mg (1% of your Daily Value)
- calcium: 28 mg (2% of your DV)
- phosphorus: 99 mg (8% of your DV)
- potassium: 69 mg (1% of your DV)
- vitamin D: 41 IU (5% of your DV)
In addition, one raw egg contains 147 mg of choline (27% of your DV), an essential nutrient that has been shown to positively impact brain function. Choline may play a role in heart health as well (
Raw eggs are also high in lutein and zeaxanthin. These important antioxidants protect your eyes and may reduce your risk of age-related eye diseases (
It’s important to note that almost all of these nutrients are concentrated in the yolk. The egg white mostly consists of protein.
Raw eggs are nutrient-dense and packed with protein, good fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that protect your eyes, brain, and heart. The yolks contain most of the nutrients.
Eggs are one of the best sources of animal protein out there.
In fact, they contain all 9 essential amino acids. For this reason, they’re often referred to as a “complete” protein source (
However, according to one very small, much older study, eating the eggs raw may decrease your absorption of these quality proteins.
The study compared the absorption of protein from both cooked and raw eggs in 5 people and found that 90% of the protein in cooked eggs was absorbed, while only 50% of the protein in raw eggs was absorbed (
This issue with absorption is something to consider if eggs are your main source of protein, but the size and date of the study make it impossible to draw any real conclusions.
It’s possible that your body will not absorb the protein in raw eggs as well as the protein in cooked eggs, but more research is needed.
Biotin is a water-soluble B vitamin, also known as vitamin B7.
This vitamin is involved in your body’s production of glucose and fatty acids. It’s also important during pregnancy (7).
While egg yolks provide a good dietary source of biotin, raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin. Avidin binds to biotin in the small intestine, preventing its absorption. Because heat destroys avidin, this is not an issue when the egg has been cooked (7,
In any case, even if you eat raw eggs, it’s highly unlikely it will lead to actual biotin deficiency. For that to happen, you would need to consume raw eggs in large amounts every day (
Raw egg whites contain the protein avidin, which may block the absorption of biotin, a water-soluble B vitamin. However, it’s unlikely to cause deficiency unless you eat a lot of raw eggs.
Raw and undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella, a type of harmful bacteria (
Salmonella contamination can happen in one of two ways:
- either directly during the formation of an egg inside the hen
- indirectly when Salmonella contaminates the outside of the egg and penetrates through the shell membrane
Indirect contamination can happen during the production process, during handling, or during food preparation (
Consuming contaminated eggs can cause food poisoning.
Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. These symptoms usually appear 6 hours to 6 days after contracting an infection and may last 4 to 7 days after eating the food contaminated with the bacteria (
Between 1995 and 2002, eggs were identified as the source of 53% of all cases of Salmonella reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 2013, it was estimated that Salmonella caused around 1 million instances of illnesses in the United States (
Pasteurization is one method that is often employed to prevent the possibility of Salmonella contamination. This process uses a heating treatment to reduce the number of bacteria and other microorganisms in foods
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) considers it safe to use in-shell raw eggs if they are pasteurized (14).
Raw eggs may contain a type of pathogenic bacteria called Salmonella, which can cause food poisoning. Using pasteurized eggs lessens the possibility of contracting a Salmonella infection.
While most people who experience Salmonella food poisoning get better quickly, there are people who are at a higher risk for contracting an infection and who may have more severe symptoms.
Those who are older, pregnant, living with a compromised immune system, and young children should avoid eating raw eggs and foods that contain them — especially if the eggs have not been pasteurized (
Young children, pregnant people, older adults, and those living with compromised immune systems should avoid eating raw eggs.
According to the CDC, there are a few ways you can minimize the risk for contracting a Salmonella infection (
- Buy pasteurized eggs and egg products, which are available in some supermarkets.
- Only buy eggs kept in the refrigerated food section of the grocery store.
- Keep eggs refrigerated in your home. Storing them at room temperature may induce rapid growth of harmful bacteria.
- Don’t buy or consume eggs past their expiration date.
- Get rid of cracked or dirty eggs.
- Wash hands and anything else that may have come into contact with raw eggs.
While all of these steps help, one of the best ways to eliminate the risk of contracting Samonella is to cook eggs thoroughly.
Buying pasteurized and refrigerated eggs can lower the risk of contracting a Salmonella infection. Proper storage and handling after you purchase them is also important.
Raw eggs have many of the same nutritional benefits as cooked eggs.
However, protein absorption may be lower from raw eggs, and the uptake of biotin may be prevented.
Most concerning is the risk of raw eggs being contaminated with bacteria leading to the potential contraction of a Salmonella infection. Buying pasteurized eggs will lower your risk for infection.