By Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD
The Egg Nutrition Center partnered with Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD to write this blog post.
May is National Egg Month, which makes it the perfect time to brush up on your egg knowledge. Sure, you likely know that eggs are an affordable high-quality protein and a nutritious addition to your breakfast routine. But there are a few other little-known facts about eggs that may surprise you. In honor of National Egg Month, test your egg-spertise and see how many of these unexpected facts are news to you.
1. The eggshell color doesn’t affect quality.
The only difference between eggs with white and brown shells is the hen. Those with red feathers and red ear lobes lay eggs with brown shells, while eggs with white shells come from white feathered and white lobed hens. Hens that lay brown eggs tend to be larger and require more feed than hens that lay white eggs, so brown eggs are often more expensive to cover the cost of the extra feed. The quality, flavor, nutrition or cooking uses are the exact same, regardless of the shell color.
2. Eggs are one of the most concentrated food sources of choline in the U.S. diet.
Choline is a nutrient necessary for gene expression, the formation of cell membranes, lipid transport, metabolism and early brain development (1). Because choline is considered so critical to neurocognitive development, a 2018 position paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that although all nutrients are necessary for brain growth, key nutrients that support neurodevelopment include protein, zinc, choline, iron, folate, iodine, vitamins A, D, B6 and B12 and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (2). Eggs are an excellent source of choline and provide varying amounts of all of the nutrients recommended by AAP.
3. They are one of the few food sources of Vitamin D.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of calcium and the immune system’s defense against diseases (3). Recent data from NHANES 2001-2010 examined Vitamin D status of adults over the age of 18 and found that 28.9% of people were deficient in this crucial vitamin (4). Vitamin D is in relatively few foods, such as fatty fish, eggs, dairy products, and mushrooms. One large egg has about 41 IU of Vitamin D (6% daily value).
4. Eggs contain carotenoids.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids present in eggs, both of which are important for brain and eye health. Specifically, lutein and zeaxanthin help protect the eye from harmful blue light and macular degeneration (5).
5. Older hard boiled eggs make them easier to peel.
It’s been speculated that older eggs are easier to peel because the air cell that forms between the shell membranes as the egg ages, and this helps separate the shell from the egg. In fresher eggs, the air cell is small, making it more difficult to remove the shell. If it sounds like an old wives’ tale, try hard boiling and peeling a week old egg versus a brand new one and see for yourself!
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Choline. (2019). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Choline-HealthProfessional/
- Schwarzenberg SJ and Georgieff MK, AAP COMMITTEE ON NUTRITION. Advocacy for Improving Nutrition in the First 1000 Days to Support Childhood Development and Adult Health. Pediatrics. 2018;141(2)e20173716
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. (2019). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-%20HealthProfessional/
- Liu, X., Baylin, A., & Levy, P. (2018). Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency among US adults: prevalence, predictors and clinical implications. British Journal Of Nutrition, 119(8), 928-936. doi: 10.1017/s0007114518000491
- Wu, J., Cho, E., Willett, W., Sastry, S., & Schaumberg, D. (2015). Intakes of Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Other Carotenoids and Age-Related Macular Degeneration During 2 Decades of Prospective Follow-up. JAMA Ophthalmology, 133(12), 1415. doi: 10.1001/jamaophthalmol.2015.3590