Nutrition from eggs
For the purposes of this article, we are discussing eggs from chickens. Duck is becoming easier to source and can be a preferred source for those allergic to chicken eggs. It is, however, important to note that the nutritional support from duck, turkey, goose, quail, or any other type of egg can vary slightly from those of chicken.
A favorite food for many people, eggs are easy to prepare and highly versatile. They can be used for any meal of the day, as a quick protein snack, or incorporated into other foods. At approximately 70 calories each, they are a great source of protein, providing approximately 6g of protein. They are also a good source of beneficial nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin as well as iron, choline, selenium, biotin, B12, and B2.
Top Health Benefits
In addition to being a great source of protein, eggs provide other health benefits.
- A good source of cholesterol, which the body needs to make hormones, consuming eggs does not raise blood levels for cholesterol. And pastured or free-range are even better as they can help reduce triglycerides
- Most people don’t get enough choline in their diet. Yet it is vital for liver function as well as nerves and muscle tissue. As listed above, eggs are a good source of choline
- Supportive for eye health due to high levels of lutein and zeaxanthin
For a small percentage of the population, eggs are a source of allergic reaction. Approximately 2% of all children have an allergy to eggs. Nearly 70%, however, tend to grow out of the condition by age 16. For those allergic to chicken eggs, there may also be a response to other eggs as well. An allergenic response can include:
- Asthmatic symptoms or wheezing
- Digestive upset, cramps, nausea, or bloating
- Nasal congestion, sneezing, a runny nose, or post-nasal drip
- Skin irritation or rash
In severe cases of true food allergy, there can be an anaphylactic reaction which might include low blood pressure, faintness, dizziness, or restricted airways. If you suspect an anaphylactic reaction seek medical care immediately. For those with a true food allergy, it is important to monitor your reactions as the response can get worse with repeated exposures.
It is important to be aware that the influenza vaccine is made using a small amount of egg protein and therefore may not be safe for those with this type of true food allergy.
On the label
Eggs are used in a wide variety of ways. In addition to homemade goods such as omelets or quiche, they are also used as a binder for baked goods, meatloaf, and other foods. However, a wide variety of prepared and packaged foods may also contain eggs as one of their ingredients. These can include mayonnaise, crackers (such as matzo), noodles, pasta, dressings, sauces, and other condiments.
Because eggs are one of the seven most common food allergens (the others are corn, wheat/gluten, soy, fish, dairy, and nuts) labeling laws require that manufacturers disclose on the label if their product contains eggs.
Names that appear on the food label that can indicate the presence of eggs include:
- Anything starting with “ova” or “ovo,” such as ovalbumin or ovoglobulin
In addition to true food allergies, there is a possibility for people to develop a sensitivity to eggs due to intestinal impermeability, or leaky gut. Testing is the best way to determine if there is any kind of delayed hypersensitivity or food intolerance. If there is a food sensitivity or intolerance, avoiding eggs for a period of time while adding supportive protocols for the gut is helpful. The period of time required to avoid eggs can vary depending on the individual, the severity of the intolerance, and compliance with dietary changes.
If you suspect sensitivity issues using a food journal can help to identify when you eat eggs, or any other items that you suspect an intolerance to, and your physical response. This can then be followed up with a visit to a professional for nutritional support. If you suspect a true food allergy, working with an allergist or immunologist is recommended.