Nutrients In Eggs

Eggs are a nutrient goldmine!

One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, high-quality protein, all for 70 calories.

While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high-quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, the majority of an egg’s nutrient package is found in the yolk. Nutrients such as:

  • Vitamin D, critical for bone health and immune function. Eggs are one of the only foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
  • Choline, essential for normal functioning of all cells, but particularly important during pregnancy to support healthy brain development of the fetus.
  • Lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that are believed to reduce the risk of developing cataracts and slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration, a disease that develops with age.

Zinc: Serve Yourself an Immune Boosting Breakfast

When asked to list nutrients that are crucial for promoting overall health and well-being, many clients will have protein, antioxidants, and vitamins at the top of their minds.  While these nutrients are undoubtedly significant, it’s important to also recognize the lesser-known minerals that play vital role in promoting overall health. Take zinc for example – it’s naturally found in some foods and many other foods are fortified to include greater levels of the mineral.  Zinc is most commonly known for shorting the duration and severity of the common cold, but many clients don’t understand what the mineral’s significance beyond that.

Zinc plays a viable role in cellular metabolism and is required for the functioning of over 300 enzymes in the body1. It contributes to maintaining immune function by regulating T lymphocytes and possessing antiviral activity; and it’s involved in and necessary for protein synthesis, wound healing, DNA synthesis, and cell division. Zinc has also shown to support normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence2. According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), most infants, children, and adults in the United States have no problem consuming the recommended amounts of zinc in their regular diet. This is not the case with older adults, however, as the study found that 35 percent to 45 percent of adults 60 years and older have zinc intakes below the recommended dietary allowances3.

The current Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for female adults is 8mg (6.8mg/day for elderly females) and 11mg for adult males (9.4mg/day for elderly males) and 11mg for pregnant women. It is important to consume adequate amounts of zinc daily as the body does not have a specialized storage system1. Zinc is found in most animal sources where red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc to the American diet. Other quality sources include beans, nuts, certain types of seafood (oysters, crab, and lobster especially), whole grains, fortified cereals, dairy products, and of course, eggs.

When looking to increase zinc levels in your diet, it’s important to pay close attention to which foods you turn to. Although many grain and plant-based foods are good sources of zinc, it is important to note that these foods also contain phytates which bind to zinc and inhibit its absorption. Therefore best bioavailability of zinc comes from animal sources mentioned such as meat, fish, dairy, and eggs! One egg provides 4 percent of the recommended daily value (DV)3. The omelet recipe below will provide zinc from the eggs, ham and spinach.

Spinach, Ham, and Cheese Omelet
2 servings- pair with some fruit and a cup of low-fat milk for a complete meal.


  • 2 EGGS
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • ¼ cup shredded Italian cheese blend (1 oz.)
  • ¼ cup baby spinach
  • ¼ cup finely chopped ham
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Beat eggs and water in small bowl until blended.
  • Heat butter in 7 to 10-inch nonstick omelet pan of skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Tilt pan to coat bottom. Pour in egg mixture should set immediately at edges.
  • Gently push cooked portions from edges toward the center with inverted turner so that uncooked eggs can reach the hot pan surface. CONTINUE cooking, tilting pan and gently moving cooked portions as needed.
  • When top surface of eggs is thickened and no visible liquid egg remains, season with salt and pepper. Place cheese on one side of omelet; top with spinach and ham. Fold omelet in half with turner. With a quick flip of the wrist, turn pan and invert or slide omelet onto plate. Service immediately.

Per serving Calories: 299 Total Fat: 20g; Saturated fat: 9g; Polyunsaturated fat: 2g;  Monounsaturated fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 418mg; Sodium: 642mg; Carbohydrates: 2g; Dietary Fiber: 0g; Protein: 25g; Vitamin A: 1262.3IU; Vitamin D: 91.9IU; Folate: 47.4mcg; Calcium: 264.9mg; Iron: 2.2mg; Choline: 274.2mg; Zinc: 4.415


1)      Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Zinc, 2012. Web. 23 May 2013.

2)      Chaffee B, King J. Effect of Zinc Supplementation on Pregnancy and Infant Outcomes: A Systematic Review. Pediatric & Perinatal Epidemiology [serial online]. July 2, 2012; 26:118-137. Available from: Consumer Health Complete – EBSCOhost, Ipswich, MA. Accessed May 23, 2013.

3)      Gibson, RS, and JE McKenzie. The Risk of Inadequate Zinc Intake in the United States and New Zealand Adults. 38th ed. Vol. 2: Nutrition Today, 2003. 63-70. Web. 23 May 2013.

4)      Brown, KH, KR Wessells, and SY Hess. Zinc bioavailability from zinc-fortified foods. 3rd ed. Vol. 77: International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 2007. 174-81. Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA. Web. 23 May 2013.

5)      U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page,

Unscrambling the Science Behind Eggs and Omega-3 Fatty Acids


James D. House, B.Sc.(Agr), Ph.D.
Professor and Head
Department of Human Nutritional Sciences
University of Manitoba

Today’s post comes from James House, Ph.D. Dr. House is studying the relationship between water soluble vitamin nutrition, the metabolism of amino acids, and how they relate to optimal growth and health of individuals. He also maintains a strong focus towards the development of functional foods of animal origin.  He is also a member of ENC’s Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP).

The omega 3 fatty acids include the plant-based alpha-linolenic acid (ALA; high levels in flax and chia, moderate levels in hemp and canola), and the animal-based, longer chain fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA),  docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to cardioprotective effects, including reduced serum triglycerides, reduced blood pressure, and anti-inflammatory and anti-arrhythmic effects.   Several reviews have been published in the last few years to highlight the linkage between omega-3 consumption and potential health benefits. From a nutritional standpoint, the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) process led to the establishment of an adequate intake (AI) for the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, in the amount of 1.1 g/d for women, and 1.6 g/d for men.  The same recommendations indicated that as much as 10% of the ALA can be provided by the sum of EPA, DPA and DHA, since these are synthesized from ALA, equivalent to 110- 160 mg/d.  These recommendations were based on the usual intake patterns of consumers in the US. However, evidence supports the consideration of higher intakes of the longer chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, for cardiovascular health, in addition to suggested benefits in reducing risk for certain cancers and inflammatory conditions.  Both EPA and DHA are found in significant amounts in fish and other marine foods, and the consumption of two servings of fish per week could lead to the intake of 250 mg/d of EPA/DHA that is being recommended in some circles.  While marine sources represent the highest natural sources of the long-chain omega 3 fatty acids, eggs also provide the spectrum of omega-3 fatty acids.

  • A serving of two, classic table eggs (100 g) provides 65 mg or roughly 50% of the daily suggested amount of the long chain omega-3 fatty acids, based on the DRIs

In addition, by adding flaxseed, fish oil, or algal oils to the hen’s diet, we can significantly enhance both the total and the long chain omega-3 content of the egg.  Current research is focused on enhancing the content of not only the omega-3’s , but other important nutrients for the population, including:

  • Vitamin D
  • Folate
  • Vitamin B12

Stay tuned for future blogs that describe successes with enhancing eggs with these important nutrients.

Nutrition Spotlight: The Phosphorus Factor in End-Stage Renal Disease

Osteodystrophy occurs when elevated blood phosphorus levels cause parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels to rise which, in turn, increases calcium release from the bones to maintain the appropriate calcium to phosphorus ratio in the blood.2 The kidneys are also responsible for activating vitamin D to increase calcium absorption in the GI tract but this process is also impaired in those with ESRD4. Elevated blood levels of calcium and phosphorus can lead to increased calcification, or stiffening, of soft tissues including blood vessels, the lungs, eyes and the heart muscle.2 Over time this can lead to the demineralization or weakening of the bones as well as an increased risk for cardiovascular complications.3, 4

Dialysis helps remove some of the phosphorus from the blood, but not enough to maintain normal blood levels. Patients on dialysis need to focus on consuming lower phosphorus foods to decrease their phosphorus intake and consequently phosphorus levels in the blood1. Examples of high phosphorus foods include dairy, nuts, dark-sodas, beans and chocolate. Lower phosphorus foods include clear-sodas, non-bran cereals, fruits and vegetables. One large egg contains 99 mg of phosphorus and can be a good high-quality protein option and poached, fried or baked eggs are a quick and affordable breakfast option – particularly when paired with other low phosphorus foods. The recipe below is great for a quick morning breakfast.

Basic Poached Eggs



  • 1 Egg, cold
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. HEAT 2 to 3 inches of water in large saucepan or deep skillet to boiling. ADJUST HEAT to keep liquid simmering gently.
  2. BREAK egg into custard cup or saucer. Holding dish close to surface, SLIP egg into water.
  3. COOK egg until whites are completely set and yolks begin to thicken but are not hard, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not stir. LIFT egg from water with slotted spoon. DRAIN in spoon or on paper towels. TRIM any rough edges, if desired. SPRINKLE with salt and pepper. SERVE immediately.


  1. National Kidney Foundation. Phosphorus your CKD Diet.  Accessed April 16, 2013.
  2. Medline Plus. Phosphorus in your diet. Accessed April 16, 2013.
  3. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). Chronic Kidney Disease-Mineral and Bone Disorder. April 17, 2013.
  4. Moe S, Drüeke T, Cunningham J, et al. Definition, evaluation, and classification of renal osteodystrophy: A position statement from Kidney Disease: Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO).Kidney Int. 2006; 69(11):1945-1953.

White vs. Brown Eggs – What’s the Story?


Egg selection in grocery stores has become increasingly complicated for consumers as the variety of eggs to choose from continues to expand with the addition of omega-3 enriched eggs, increased size variation and the development of organic brands. With myths of nutritional content differences floating around, many consumers aren’t sure if there’s a difference between white eggs and brown eggs.

In reality, the color of the egg shell is not related to the quality, flavor, nutritional content, shell thickness, or cooking properties1. Differences in shell color are due to differences in  hen breeds. Hens with red feathers and ear lobes lay eggs with brown shells, while hens with white feathers and ear lobes lay eggs with white shells – the only difference is the price1. Hens that lay brown eggs are larger and therefore require more feed than hens that lay white eggs. For that reason, eggs with brown shells are sold at a slightly higher price to cover the additional costs for feed.

Here is a recent blog/podcast about eggs that Neva Cochran, ENC Health Professional Advisor, completed with Dr. Susan Mitchell.

Some key highlights about eggs:

  • Nutritional value does not have any impact on the grade (AA, A or B). Learn more about grading here.
  • Egg sizes include: peewee, small, medium, large, extra-large and jumbo, but medium, large and extra-large are the most common sizes available in stores.
  • Basic egg recipes and scrambled or fried egg recipes can use any size egg. Some baked goods will recommend using a specific size to ensure the correct proportion of liquid to dry ingredients is maintained.
  • Decode terms like organic, cage-free and free-range
  • Having multiple egg choices allows consumers the ability to choose eggs based on their personal preferences.

For more information on egg selection, reference this article on the different types of specialty eggs that are available.

No matter what type of eggs you choose, don’t be afraid to experiment! Here is a recipe with a new twist on the classic recipe, Green Eggs and Ham that is fun for clients to experience and enjoy with their whole family!


Green Eggs and Ham                


2 to 4 eggs

2 to 4 tbsp. milk

Salt and pepper

1 or 2 tsp. butter

2 to 4 tbsp. tomatillo salsa, warmed

2 to 4 tbsp. chopped ham


  1. Beat eggs, milk, salt and pepper in bowl until blended
  2. Heat butter in nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Pour in egg mixture. As eggs begin to set, gently pull the eggs across the pan with an inverted turner, forming large, soft curds.
  3. Continue cooking – pulling lifting and folding eggs – until thickened and no visible liquid egg remains. Do not stir constantly. Remove from heat.
  4. Top eggs with tomatillo salsa and ham. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information (per serving):

Calories: 116, Total Fat: 7, Saturated fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated fat: 1g, Monounsaturated fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 199mg, Sodium: 163mg, Carbohydrates: 3g, Dietary Fiber: 0g, Protein: 10g, Vitamin A: 358.1IU, Vitamin D: 49.9IU, Folate: 24.3mcg, Calcium: 47.6mg, Iron: 1mg, Choline: 138.4mg


  1. Incredible Edible Egg. Egg Facts & Fun. Accessed April 16, 2013.
  2. Incredible Edible Egg. Egg Facts & Fun.  Accessed April 16, 2013.
  3. Illinois Department of Agriculture. Eggs: A Consumer Guide.  Updated April 16th, 2013. Accessed April 16, 2013.

Carnitine, Choline and Your Gut

Choline and carnitine have been in the news because of new research linking gut microbes to heart disease. Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic reported that individuals with advanced heart disease had elevated blood levels of TMAO (trimethylamine oxide) produced from dietary choline and carnitine by bacteria in your lower intestines. As a nutrition scientist, I find the new research fascinating, but true to form, the news media went for the sensational headlines. The media reported that eggs (a good food source of choline) and meat (a food source of carnitine) increased the risk for heart disease. Well the science is interesting, but the headlines misrepresent the findings.

The gut microbiome is an exciting new area of medical research. Scientists have new tools to begin to study and evaluate the trillion microbes living with us in our intestines. Within the huge population of microbes, some are good friends like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria and some less friendly includingE. coli, B. wadsworthia, and H. pylori. The gut is like a neighborhood where all must co-exist. In a normal healthy gut, friendly bacteria outnumber the less friendly neighbors. The balance of bacteria within your microbial neighborhood reflects your life experiences including the food you choose to eat, antibiotic use, daily sanitation, stress and many other factors.

To get perspective on the TMAO story, we need to delve into the chemistry of where we get TMAO. The pathway is complicated and demonstrates why a healthy gut is important. The theory proposed by the researchers is that high levels of TMAO in the blood alter cholesterol metabolism and leads to heart disease. However the researchers admit they don’t know if elevated TMAO leads to heart disease or if heart disease leads to elevated TMAO.

The TMAO story begins with formation of trimethylamine (TMA). TMA is part of the chemical structure of many natural nutrients including the essential amino acid lysine, as well as choline (essential for brain function) and carnitine (essential for fat metabolism). If these nutrients reach the lower intestines, certain bacteria break these nutrients apart to form free TMA. Some of the TMA is absorbed and travels to the liver where it is converted to TMAO by the liver enzyme FMO (flavin monooxygenase). TMAO is released from the liver into the blood and eliminated by the kidney into the urine. That’s the normal pattern. For TMAO to increase in the blood requires at least two of these steps to be abnormal. The most likely problems are abnormal gut bacteria and reduced kidney function.

Beyond the facts that multiple abnormal steps must occur simultaneously to elevate TMAO (“a perfect storm”), there are also some basic nutrition problems with the theory. First, the pathway to TMAO begins with exposure to TMA. Well, the primary dietary source of TMA is fish and everyone recommends eating more fish for heart health. This is a serious disconnect between the new theory and accepted nutrition research.

Second, can dietary choline cause the problem? Choline is a semi-essential nutrient. We make some choline within our bodies but the amount is considered inadequate especially during periods of development or stress. The Institute of Medicine has set 450 mg of choline as the daily need for an adequate intake (AI) and less than 10% of Americans consume the AI. During pregnancy and lactation requirements may increase to above 900 mg/day. A single large egg provides about 115 mg of choline similar to a pound of spinach or 1½ cups of tofu. Further, there are dozens of research studies showing that egg consumption actually improves heart health and the American Heart Association recommends increasing egg consumption to 7 eggs per week to reduce risk for macular degeneration during aging. So the headlines suggest choline and eggs cause heart disease, yet nutrition research suggests choline intake is too low for neurological health – another disconnect between established nutrition research and the media headlines.

The story is similar for carnitine. Carnitine is essential for the body to burn fats. Generally, we produce adequate amounts of carnitine within our bodies but some individuals do not. When carnitine is low, the ability to burn fats is reduced and supplements have been shown to improve fat burning. Normal daily intake of carnitine is about 0.2 grams, but carnitine supplements up to 2 grams per day have been used for decades by cardiologist for treatment of heart disease. Athletes have also routinely supplemented carnitine to improve endurance.

The new research about gut health and host metabolism is an exciting new area of biomedical science. We’re learning that the millions of microbes who live with us in our intestines affect our health but the research is still in its infancy. For now don’t be caught up in the headlines and do the simple things to protect the health of your microbes like avoiding unnecessary antibiotics and consume vegetables and fruits to provide the soluble fibers to optimize gut health.