The mighty egg is known to be one of the purest forms of muscle-building protein there is. This nutritiously dense animal-based food can be eaten a million different ways and it’s undeniably the most popular source of breakfast protein worldwide.
Eggs also happen to be very affordable too, which is especially good for those who want quality nutrition on a budget. So whether you meal prep or just like eggs upon waking, you can’t go wrong with eggs.
In this article, we’ve shared the healthiest ways to eat eggs to keep things interesting and tasty for you fit nuts or egg lovers!
- What’s So Special About Eggs?
- Healthiest Ways To Eat Eggs
- Egg Cooking Strategies
- Is an Egg… an Egg?
- Wrapping Up
What’s So Special About Eggs?
Again, it doesn’t get much better than the egg if you’re wanting a super high-quality form of protein. Not to mention, it is a much better alternative to lower-quality protein sources and is very easy and convenient to prepare.
“Eating an egg a day as a part of a healthy diet for healthy individuals is a reasonable thing to do,” according to Jo Ann Carson, Professor of Clinical Nutrition at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas (1).
Most people who don’t follow the vegan lifestyle include eggs in their diet, especially for breakfast. Eggs are low-calorie, have a nice serving of complete protein, and also contain some essential nutrients as well.
But the size of the egg will determine its nutritional content as it does vary.
The average small egg has about 54 calories and 4.8g protein while an extra-large egg contains about 80 calories and 7g protein (2).
So while not necessarily a huge difference, there is a difference and this may matter more so when you have body goals (e.g., competing, bulking up, cutting, etc).
Otherwise, it’s common for most people to have about one-three eggs for breakfast.
Eggs also contain a decent serving of fat that includes saturated, unsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fats. Fat content typically ranges from 3-6 grams. per egg.
Learn more about dietary fats here: Fat Intake Calculator
As for vitamins and minerals, there’s a decent amount of vitamins, A, D, B6, B12, pantothenic acid. Riboflavin, folate, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium are also found in eggs. Check the full nutrition of whole raw egg.
These nutrients are all important for maintaining good health and bodily function.
Now let’s talk about the healthiest ways to eat eggs and then make sure to keep scrolling past for more information on eggs.
Check out our top egg white powder supplement picks for 2021.
Healthiest Ways To Eat Eggs
In this section, we’ll talk about the healthiest ways to cook eggs and eat eggs. Because apparently, eating an egg doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the most out of it nutritionally.
1. Get good eggs
First and foremost, you want a healthy-looking egg that’s not expired and you want to store it properly.
No cracks or spills are a must to avoid contamination (yes, you should be that guy or gal who opens the carton although this is a common practice nowadays). Always make sure to check the date. If you’re going to eat them right away, eggs closer to their expiration may be OK but ideally, get the freshest eggs possible.
So get them before the sell-by date and obviously before the expiration date.
The Egg Safety Center says you should always buy eggs from a refrigerated case and make sure to look for the USDA grade shield or mark to ensure the pack date of the eggs.
They also say to keep the eggs refrigerated at a temperature of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below for optimal safety.
Ideally, the eggs should sit in the main compartment of the fridge, as storing them in the door could cause bacterial growth due to possible temperature fluctuations.
You can store eggs in the fridge for 3-5 weeks starting from the day they’re placed in there. If you do this, it’s perfectly OK to eat them after the sell-by date.
In contrast, liquid eggs should be eaten 2-6 days after you bring them home and when opened, should be consumed as soon as possible.
You also shouldn’t wash eggs as water could absorb through the pores and potentially cause contamination.
2. Cooking to perfeggtion
Eggs should be cooked using a high enough temperature to rid all of the bacteria. Although, we’re certainly not going to convince anyone to stop drinking raw eggs. But cooking them enough improves your chances of not getting salmonella or other sicknesses that aren’t fun.
Thankfully though, there’s a small chance of egg contamination. But if that’s not convincing enough, research shows that raw eggs may be less nutritious, so there you go. Another reason to cook your eggs properly (3, 4).
Proper cooking temperatures
If you’re wondering what the proper temps are for cooking eggs, according to the Egg Safety Center –“The whites will coagulate (set) between 144 and 149° F, the yolk between 149 and 158° F, and the whole egg between 144 and 158° F.”
There’s no need to cook an egg so much that the little feller turns green (releases too much hydrogen sulfide) and the white turns tannish. Plus, I don’t personally know anyone who likes hard, rubbery, overcooked eggs.
Poached eggs should be cooked gently in simmering water until the whites set and the yolk is acceptable but not hard. For hard-cooked eggs, the temperature inside should reach above 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
The difference between hard-cooked and hard-boiled is that the latter involves boiling but you remove the eggs from the heat to finish gently cooking until done.
This prevents that gross green ring and the taste you get from overcooking.
Afterward, dunk the eggs in water or ice water and refrigerate after they’ve cooled. Hard-cooked eggs should, ideally, be eaten within a week when stored in the fridge.
For fried eggs, the whites should be set with the yolk cooked but not hard.
If you like your eggs scrambled or prefer omelets, you want to ensure that there’s no gooey clear liquid.
If you like to microwave your eggs, well, make sure they aren’t in the shell or you’ll likely get a big eggsplosion! Eggs also usually cook much faster using a microwave and this varies depending on the microwave.
Cooking alters nutrients
Cooking eggs does actually affect the nutrient content too. But it depends on how long you cook them.
Cooking the egg can also improve its digestibility (5).
This is especially important for getting the most protein from each egg which is why many, especially fitness enthusiasts, eat lots of eggs.
One study found that the body can absorb 90 or more percent of protein from an egg compared to about 50% from raw eggs (6).
That’s because there are structural differences between a raw and heated egg.
Now let’s talk about how cooking eggs in high-heat and longer-durations can remove some of the nutrients present in eggs. Although, this is the case with most foods cooked using high heat.
In fact, some research shows that cooking can reduce antioxidants by 6-18%. And for other nutrients such as vitamin D, for example, a study found baking eggs for 40 minutes can cause a 60% reduction in this vitamin than if it was fried or boiled for 18 minutes (9, 10).
So the duration can have a big effect on the retention of nutrients in eggs. But don’t worry, if you get it right, you’ll still get the nutritional benefits from your eggs.
3. Be mindful with your pairings
If you’re trying to be healthy or watch your weight, and we truly hope you are because you only get body; then you might not want to eat an all-American breakfast every morning.
For example, consider pairing your eggs with some avocado, veggies, sweet potatoes, rice cakes, berries, etc, rather than loading up on the sausage egg and cheese biscuit, although the latter can be irresistible (trust us, we know).
If you’re a busy person, you could boil an egg/s, peel it and take it with you to have for breakfast. It’s super easy, fast, and convenient nutrition. But frying or scrambling eggs is even faster so either way, there’s no long prep time unless you’re making an omelet, or recipes that contain eggs.
You can also eat eggs in a salad, sandwich, soup, or however you can healthily prepare it.
As with a lot of food items, you can choose to use them for good… or not so good (guilty pleasures on the daily).
Eggs and cholesterol/heart concerns
Eggs contain a high percentage of cholesterol which has long been a concern for those who have them frequently or in larger quantities per sitting.
For eggsample, a large egg has about 70% or 211mg cholesterol. To give you an idea of how much this is, the general recommended daily intake for cholesterol was 300mg.
Now, it’s no secret that elevated blood cholesterol is associated with being dangerous for the heart.
But it’s not as simple as just saying high cholesterol foods cause high cholesterol. In fact, more recent studies found that it’s the saturated fat content that is responsible for high cholesterol levels.
Because of this, there’s no longer a recommended upper limit for cholesterol consumption in the United States.
Foods such as fatty meats and full-fat dairy come to mind as they contain higher amounts of saturated fat. This type of fat should really be the most limited form in the diet whereas unsaturated fats should make up the bulk of your daily/weekly intake.
In fact, research shows that eggs can raise HDL or good cholesterol.
In one study of 24 men and women who ate two eggs every day for 6 weeks with no other lifestyle changes, researchers found that HDL levels increased and LDL (bad cholesterol) did not change (13).
It was concluded that most healthy individuals can safely have a moderate intake of eggs.
Eggs are antioxidant-rich, containing lutein and zeaxanthin that are found in the retina of the eye. Therefore, eggs are good for your eyes! These nutrients have shown to reduce cataracts and macular degeneration. Plus, vitamin A is good for eye health as well (16).
But does all of this mean you can eat as many eggs as you want? Absolutely not.
While most healthy people will be fine eating a couple eggs a day, and again, this varies from person to person; those who are more susceptible to heart issues and who have diabetes should watch their intake. (17, 18, 19).
So rather than having 14 eggs per week, maybe cut that in half or more.
But how much you consume also really depends on your overall daily/weekly cholesterol intake. For example, people who don’t eat as much or any meat could be fine eating more eggs.
“For someone who’s decided to go vegetarian, and they’re not eating red meat, maybe the only source of cholesterol would be in an egg,” said Carson. “Those individuals could probably include eggs a little bit more in their diet.”
But, in general, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends one whole egg or two egg whites per day for most as part of a healthy eating regime.
And if you think the yolk is bad for you, then think again. There’s undoubtedly been a little bit of an eggs-aggeration when it comes to the dangers of eating yolks.
We’re all familiar with the trend of eating only egg whites.
The yellow part of an egg is incredibly nutritious and not to mention, tasty. In fact, it contains more nutrition overall compared to the white, as the latter is mostly protein.
“There are other good things in the yolk that you’re going to miss out on if you don’t have the yolk,” Carson also explained.
But it’s also important to note that when eggs are cooked at excessively high heats, this can increase oxidation of cholesterol and release compounds called oxysterols (20).
Oxysterols may increase the risk of heart disease (21).
But then again, according to studies, levels of this compound oxidized by the body may be more dangerous than foods oxidizing cholesterol. And we’ve already determined that moderate egg consumption is most likely safe for most people (22, 23, 24).
Egg Cooking Strategies
You can boil, poach, fry, bake, and prepare eggs in all sorts of ways. Some people prefer just one method while others like to change up the cooking method to prevent boredom.
All are good methods though.
While we did touch on this subject, we wanted to provide some information on cooking eggs for best results and maximum nutrient retention and tastiness.
Hard-cooked or boiled
Hard-cooked/boiled eggs not only taste amazing when cooked to perfection, but it’s a convenient and ideal method for retaining a lot of the nutrition.
You can slice them up and add them to almost anything and ensure that you’re getting a high-quality protein source.
Cooking methods will depend on your preference and the length of time that you cook an egg depends on its size. You may have to experiment a little to get that perfect egg according to how you like it.
A good method for boiling is to place the eggs in the water and make sure they are covered at least a half-inch and sometimes more. Heat to a boil, then turn off the stove and leave the pot on the burner covered for about 10-12 minutes, give or take a few minutes for less or more cooked eggs.
You could also boil the water for a few minutes, remove it from the heat and let it cook that way as well (hard-cooked).
Also, remember that fresher eggs are harder to peel so you may want to have them for a week or so before boiling and peeling. But you could also steam fresh eggs for 15 minutes or so to make them easier to peel.
Another common recommendation is to add a little vinegar or salt which may help to prevent cracking or spilling out in the water.
Fried eggs can be very tasty, and as versatile as boiled eggs. Sunny side up, over easy, over medium, over hard are all variations of the fried egg and everyone has their preference as to which they prefer.
But there are a few things that you’ll need to do or know before you make the perfect type of fried egg.
The pan matters… Yes, there’s nothing worse than a fried egg that sticks all over the pan and requires a shovel to get it off. A decent quality non-stick pan will make cooking and eating eggs so much more enjoyable and less stressful.
As for what you’ll cook the egg in, butter is usually king. If you are going to use it, we recommend a good grass-fed option and to not overdo it.
But a little olive, vegetable oil, or low-fat cooking spray can work too. Cooking spray is often best for limiting calories. Make sure to use an oil that has a high smoking point to ensure the fats remain intact and prevent the release of unhealthy chemicals.
Olive, avocado, and macadamia nut oil are great options.
Cook your eggs using medium heat and again, ensure that the whites are set and the yolks are cooked but not hard. Sunny side up means cooking only on one side while over easy and the other methods require the egg to be flipped onto the other side.
Make them to your liking but don’t under or overcook them.
Scrambled eggs are excellent on their own, in sandwiches and breakfast burritos, mixed with veggies and the options are limitless.
To make the best scrambled eggs:
- Use a whisk and beat up your eggs until foamy, airy, and uniform in color, and add a little salt. This makes them nice and fluffy. Avoid using a fork and bowl if possible.
- Add a little milk, half and half, or mayonnaise (be gentle) to make the eggs nice and creamy with depth (optional).
- Add a little butter, oil, or spray to coat the entire pan.
- Heat the pan to medium heat to melt the butter (if using it), add the eggs to the center of the pan, and then turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Let the eggs sit for a few seconds to create larger and fluffier curds.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently push the eggs back and forth to ensure that all parts are getting cooked.
- Remove from the heat after the eggs are just fully cooked, crack some pepper, and then serve.
Another common cooking method, poached eggs are cooked in simmering water outside of the shell to leave you with a perfectly cooked spherically-shaped white with a runny middle.
Poaching can be intimidating but don’t let that stop you from trying because you’ll get the hang of it.
Now, there is a special technique to this so pay attention…
What you’ll need:
- Fine mesh sieve
- Pot (not pan)
- Light-colored vinegar (optional but recommended)
- The freshest eggs you can find (for best poached egg)
Steps to making a perfectly-poached egg
- Bring a pot filled with about 4 inches of water to a boil, then reduce it to a low simmer or turn off the heat completely.
- Crack the egg into a fine mesh sieve to rid the more liquidy part of the white. This prevents the uglyish “white wispies” from forming and helps the firmer white to form better around the yolk.
- Place the egg into a small ramekin or bowl.
- Add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water and stir it to create a vortex. This helps to keep the whites together.
- Place the egg into the center of the vortex and leave it for about three minutes or so. We recommend setting a timer for best results. But you can eyeball it.
- Remove the egg using a slotted spoon, then use a paper towel and gently dab the egg to soak up any water.
- Eat immediately.
If you don’t want to eat it right away, place the cooked egg into ice water and store it in the fridge for a few days. When ready to eat, place the egg into a bowl of hot water for 20-30 seconds, dab with a paper towel, and Bon Appétit!
You should have a nicely-shaped and tasty poached egg.
Watch how to do it below…
Baked/mixed into recipes
You can make baked eggs that are also delicious and easy to make. And you can use eggs in all sorts of healthy recipes.
To bake, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a nonstick muffin pan and crack the eggs into the tin. Add your seasonings and bake for about 17 minutes. That’s it!
Then, of course, use the internet or old family recipes to make your egg-focused recipes as there are so many options. You can add spinach and low-fat cheese, or make a healthy frittata!
Is an Egg… an Egg?
The short answer, not eggs-actly. The quality of an egg is dependent on how the hen is raised. For instance, most would agree that pasture-raised eggs are best.
Pasture-raised means hens roam around outside and eat seeds and insects which improves the nutrition and even the taste of the eggs.
Free-range or cage-free, something you’ll often see on a grocery egg carton, doesn’t necessarily mean quality or cruelty-free. For example, “cage-free” may imply that the hens aren’t locked in tiny cages. But that doesn’t mean they have much more space and are often cramped up together.
Then you have the word “free-range,” which implies the hens are free to roam but depending on the farm and space, this can vary. Although, this may be better than cage-free.
So stick with pasture-raised if you can.
And for those who’ve heard that brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs, there’s actually not a significant difference between brown and white eggs.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to eggs, and you can find more information here.
These are the healthiest ways to eat eggs based on our in-depth research. Eggs are a powerhouse protein food that’s also very nutritious overall and there are many reasons why we love eating them on a daily or weekly basis.
But to get the most out of this egg-cellent breakfast (and anytime) food, we recommend keeping this article handy.
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