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All About the Egg


The U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies all shell eggs as natural.

Nest-Run Egg

Eggs which are packed as they come from the production facilities without having been washed, sized, and candled for quality, with the exception that some checks, dirties, or other obvious undergrades may have been removed.
– See Egg Products; Grading; Restricted Eggs


Nutrients are chemical elements that are essential to plant and animal nutrition. While no one food (other than mother’s milk, perhaps) provides all the nutrients a human needs, the egg contains a wide array of essential nutrients. After all, the egg was designed by nature to supply everything needed for the creation and nourishment of a baby chick.

All eggs contain the nutrients; protein and fat. Egg protein is of such high quality that it is often used as the standard by which other protein foods are measured. Egg protein contains all the essential amino acids (building blocks of protein which the body needs but cannot make) in a pattern that matches very closely the pattern the human body needs. This is why eggs are classified with meat in the Protein Food Group and why egg protein is called complete protein.

With the exception of vitamin C, an egg contains varying amounts of all the essential vitamins plus many minerals. An egg yolk is one of the few foods which naturally contain vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.

Altogether, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23 (2010), a single large egg (50 grams) supplies 72 calories and contains the following nutrients: 6.3 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of carbohydrates, 4.8 grams of total fat,

As is true for most foods, cooking causes some minor nutrient losses in the egg. Of the nutrients in an egg, the vitamins riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid are generally less heat stable than other nutrients. You can preserve the highest nutrient content possible by proper cooking.
– See Biological Value; Nutrient Density, Nutrition Education and Labeling Act, Protein



Nutrient Density

The ratio of nutrients to calories that a food supplies when eaten. Foods that supply significant amounts of one or more nutrients compared to the number of calories they supply are called nutrient dense. Nutrient-dense foods help you get important nutrients without excess calories.

Eggs have a high nutrient density because they provide a number of nutrients in proportion to their calorie count. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts, high-quality protein, and antioxidants, all for 70 calories. Eggs are an excellent source of choline and selenium, and a good source of high quality protein, vitamin B12, phosphorus and riboflavin. The nutrients found in eggs can play a role in weight management, muscle strength, healthy pregnancy, brain function, eye health and more.
– See Biological Value, Calories, Choline, Daily Reference Value (DVRs), Nutrient, Protein


Nutrient Labeling and Education Act (NLEA)

The 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) requires most foods, including eggs, to carry a nutrition label. Current labels express nutrients as a percentage of Daily Values (DVs) for a 2,000-calorie diet, rather than a percentage of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs).

Eggs are produced by nature, not processed according to a formula, and may differ somewhat in nutrient content based on the individual hen and her diet, even within the same size. Based on assay figures and labeling rounding rules for nutrients, a label on a typical one-dozen carton of large eggs might read as follows:
– See Daily Reference Values (DRVs), Daily Values (DVs), U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance


Nutrient-Enhanced Eggs

Eggs created by varying the hens’ diets. Some shell eggs on the market have altered fat content. So, some eggs have reduced saturated fats and increased unsaturated fats. Other eggs are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, the fats found in fish which are considered to be beneficial. Still other eggs have added vitamins, minerals or carotenoids. Check labels for nutrient facts.
– See Fat, Lutein, Omega-3 Fatty Acids



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