How Many Eggs Should You Be Eating?
Let's crack open the stats on how many eggs to eat, and how to prepare them.
Egg dishes, from omelets to shakshuka to custard, are on almost every restaurant menu, and family-friendly breakfast-for-dinner recipes mean they're eaten a.m. and p.m. But how many eggs a day can you actually eat if you want to stay healthy?
Before we get into that, let's explore why eggs are good for you — and they are certainly good for you. One large egg offers about 6 grams of protein for just about 70 calories, per the USDA National Nutrient Database. What's more, this protein is one of the most easily absorbed types and helps keep you satiated. "Studies point to the fact that eggs are especially satisfying, meaning they help keep you fuller than foods that they often replace, such as refined grains like white bagels, white bread, waffles and pancakes," says Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, a weight-loss expert in New York City with a virtual counseling practice. "Eggs help you sustain focus and energy and also manage your weight better."
Eggs offer 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including bone-health-helping vitamin D, according to the Egg Nutrition Center. They also contain eye-helping lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as the nutrient choline. "Choline is involved in memory and brain development in growing fetuses," says Cassetty. "Later in life, choline plays a role in moderating the inflammatory process, which is thought to be at the root of many diseases. As it happens, whole eggs are one of the top sources of this nutrient."
As for how many eggs you can eat a day, the answer depends on your health status. "The past 20 years of research suggests that healthy people can safely eat six whole eggs each week," says Cassetty. "If you're eating two at one sitting, that would be about three egg-based meals over the week. You can always use extra egg whites to amplify your serving sizes or stretch the number of egg-based meals you eat each week."
Your weekly egg allowance dips slightly if you have diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease or risk of heart disease. If you do, you should stick with about three whole eggs per week — or talk to your doctor or dietitian about your overall diet, suggests Cassetty. "The healthfulness of your diet involves looking at your overall eating pattern, and that includes what you're eating your eggs with as well as what you're not eating when choosing eggs," she says. "There's a big difference between serving eggs with processed meats like bacon and ham, along with white toast smeared with butter, compared with having a scramble with a veggie hash and some whole-grain toast mashed with avocado."
Why do people who have high cholesterol or are at risk for heart disease need to monitor their egg intake? They need to monitor how much saturated fat and dietary cholesterol they are getting, explains Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, a performance dietitian in Orlando, Florida, and author of Pregnancy Cooking & Nutrition for Dummies. "Eggs do have saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol has not been shown to raise blood cholesterol as much, if at all, as we thought in the past," she says. "It is really just the saturated fat in the egg yolk that we worry about the most. As long as saturated fat intake is monitored from other places like butter, high-fat dairy and fatty meats, then egg yolks can definitely be a part of a heart-healthy diet."
Now it's time to get cooking! And there are so many choices. "Eggs are one of the easiest and quickest protein options, and they're also nourishing, satisfying and easy to pair with other healthful foods," says Cassetty. "I love making poached, scrambled or soft-boiled eggs and having them with a hearty portion of veggies flavored with pesto sauce."
Here are some more healthy and tasty egg recipes:
Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area. She's a regular contributor to many publications, including EverydayHealth.com, ReadersDigest.com, NBCNews.com, and more. She also pens a recipe-focused blog, Amy's Eat List, where she shares easy, healthy recipes. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.