Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They contain high-quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. While eggs come in different sizes, the extra large egg is one of the most common varieties found in grocery stores. Extra large eggs weigh about 2.25 ounces (63 grams) on average, which is about 50% larger than a large egg. But what exactly is inside an extra large egg and what nutritional value does it provide? This article will dive into the full nutritional profile of extra large eggs, their health benefits, and how they fit into a balanced diet.
Macronutrients in Extra Large Eggs
The three main macronutrients found in extra large eggs are protein, fat, and carbohydrates:
Extra large eggs are an excellent source of high-quality protein. The white of an extra large egg contains about 6 grams of protein, while the yolk provides an additional 2.7 grams. In total, one extra large egg provides 8-9 grams of complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. The protein in egg whites is almost purely protein, while the yolk contains some fat and cholesterol as well. Nonetheless, the protein from both the white and yolk is highly bioavailable, meaning our bodies can easily digest and absorb it. The protein in eggs provides steady, sustained energy and helps maintain and repair tissues in the body.
While eggs contain different types of fats, the main ones in extra large eggs are:
– Monounsaturated fat: 2.8 grams
– Saturated fat: 2 grams
– Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7 gram
The majority of fat in eggs is healthy monounsaturated fat, the same type found in olive oil. The fat content comes mostly from the egg yolk. Despite being high in cholesterol, eggs do not negatively impact blood cholesterol levels in most people. The fat in eggs helps sustain energy, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, and provide essential fatty acids.
Eggs contain almost no carbohydrates, with less than 1 gram per extra large egg. The tiny amount comes from the glycoproteins and proteoglycans in the egg white, which contribute to its gel-like texture when cooked. So people on low-carb or ketogenic diets can enjoy eggs without worrying about carbohydrates spiking blood sugar.
Vitamins and Minerals
In addition to protein, fat, and carbs, extra large eggs are packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals:
One extra large egg provides 10% of the Recommended Daily Intake for vitamin A. Vitamin A supports immune function, growth, eye health, and reproduction. The vitamin A in eggs is found in the antioxidant form called lutein, which promotes healthy vision.
Eggs are one of the richest sources of folate, providing 30% of the RDI per extra large egg. Folate is a B vitamin that aids DNA synthesis and prevents neural tube defects in fetuses when consumed by mothers during pregnancy.
Extra large eggs supply about 15% of the RDI for vitamin B12, a nutrient crucial for nerve function, red blood cell formation, and DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is mainly found in animal foods, making eggs a valuable source for vegetarians and vegans.
A single extra large egg provides all the choline an adult needs in a day, about 125 milligrams. Choline is an essential nutrient for liver function, metabolism, nerve signaling, and brain development in fetuses and infants. Egg yolks are nature’s most concentrated source of choline.
Extra large eggs contain about 15 micrograms of selenium each, supplying over 20% of the RDI. Selenium acts as an antioxidant and supports immune function and thyroid hormone metabolism.
One extra large egg has about 0.6 milligrams of iron, providing around 8% of the RDI. Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood and aids energy production. The iron in eggs is heme iron, which is absorbed more efficiently than non-heme iron from plant foods.
Zinc and Phosphorus
Eggs also provide zinc and phosphorus, which support immune function, growth, and bone health. One extra large egg contains 5% of the RDI for zinc and 10% of the RDI for phosphorus.
Beyond vitamins and minerals, extra large eggs contain a variety of other beneficial nutrients:
Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Abundant in egg yolks, these two carotenoid antioxidants safeguard eye health and lower risks for eye diseases like macular degeneration and cataracts. Just one extra large egg supplies about 30% of the RDI for lutein and zeaxanthin.
This essential nutrient is found exclusively in the egg yolk and is vital for liver function, nerve signaling, metabolism, and brain health. One extra large egg provides all the choline you need in a day.
This unique fat emulsifier containsphosphatidylcholine and helps optimize cholesterol levels when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Lecithin also boosts brain function.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Eggs from hens fed omega-3-rich feeds like flaxseed or fish oils contain higher amounts of omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which reduce inflammation.
Potential Health Benefits
The wide array of nutrients in extra large eggs may provide some additional health benefits as well:
Muscle Strength and Performance
The protein, vitamins, and minerals in eggs help fuel muscular strength and workout performance based on human studies. Eating eggs for breakfast may be especially beneficial for muscle building.
The choline, omega-3s, B vitamins, and other nutrients in eggs promote optimal brain function and health. Studies show eggs may improve memory in older adults.
Lutein and zeaxanthin in egg yolks form macular pigments that filter out damaging blue light and UV rays, lowering risks of macular degeneration.
Eggs provide vitamin D, phosphorus, and zinc to help maintain strong bones and prevent osteoporosis.
Growth and Development
The high-quality protein in eggs provides balanced amino acids to aid growth and development in children and adolescents.
Cholesterol from eggs is a precursor to vitamin D, testosterone, estrogen, and other steroid hormones that regulate bodily processes.
Some people may need to limit their egg intake due to the high cholesterol content:
Heart Disease Risk
Eggs raise LDL (bad) cholesterol moderately for some people, potentially increasing heart disease risk. But they also boost HDL (good) cholesterol and contain antioxidants that counteract this effect.
Eggs are one of the most common food allergens, particularly in children. Symptoms may include hives, swelling, itching, vomiting, and diarrhea. People with egg allergies must avoid eggs completely.
High Cholesterol Intake
The typical extra large egg contains around 185 milligrams of cholesterol, almost all of which is in the yolk. People with high cholesterol, heart disease, or diabetes should limit egg yolk intake to 2-3 per week.
How Many Extra Large Eggs Are Healthy Per Day?
Most healthy people can safely eat 1-2 extra large eggs per day as part of a balanced diet. The recommended limits are:
– Healthy adults: Up to 3 eggs per day
– Pregnant women: 2 eggs per day
– Children: 1 egg per day
– People with heart disease or diabetes: 2-4 egg yolks per week
Following a low-carb, high-protein diet like the keto diet may allow for up to 4 whole eggs per day since carbs are restricted to under 50 grams daily on the diet. People who are highly physically active can also eat more eggs to meet higher protein needs for muscle recovery and repair.
But eggs are very calorie-dense, with about 80 calories in an extra large egg. So portions should be kept in check for those wanting to lose weight. As long as eggs are eaten in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet, they pose little health risk for most people.
How Do Extra Large Eggs Fit Into a Balanced Diet?
Here are some tips for fitting extra large eggs into a nutritious, balanced diet:
– Prepare eggs by boiling, poaching, scrambling, or sunny-side up instead of frying in butter or oils to reduce calories, cholesterol, and saturated fat.
– Pair eggs with vegetables like spinach, tomatoes, and peppers for more fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
– Eat eggs alongside whole grains like oatmeal or quinoa to balance protein with fiber-rich carbs that keep you feeling full.
– Combine eggs with lean protein sources like turkey bacon, smoked salmon, or black beans for a nutrient-packed meal.
– Limit egg yolk intake to 2-4 per week if you have heart disease risk factors like diabetes or high LDL cholesterol.
– If consuming a high-protein diet like keto, be mindful of eating adequate produce for fiber, vitamins, and hydration.
– If controlling portions for weight loss, limit to 1-2 eggs at breakfast paired with vegetables and whole fruits.
– For kids, start with 1 egg/day and serve with whole grain toast, fruit, and low-fat dairy for balanced nutrition.
Extra Large Egg Nutrition Facts
Here is the full nutritional profile of one extra large egg weighing approximately 63 grams or 2.25 ounces:
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Saturated fat||2 g||10%|
|Vitamin A||370 mcg||41%|
|Vitamin C||0 mg||0%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||6%|
|Vitamin B12||0.6 mcg||10%|
The Bottom Line
Extra large eggs are packed with high-quality protein, healthy fats, and key micronutrients that offer a range of health benefits. One to two extra large eggs per day can fit into a balanced diet for most healthy people when prepared in nutritious ways. Limit egg yolk intake to 2-4 per week if you have heart disease risk factors like diabetes or high cholesterol. Overall, extra large eggs are one of the most nutrient-dense, affordable sources of nutrition available.