How much protein in an egg?
Eggs are good for you. That statement was true 100 years ago and is true today. Eggs are relatively low in calories, inexpensive, versatile, tasty, lactose-free, nutrient-dense and are a great source of high quality protein. Yes, egg yolks do contain cholesterol, about 211 mg for a large whole egg. However, it is important to note that your liver manufactures cholesterol every day and the way your body metabolizes it is dictated, in part, by family history/predisposition. The main dietary culprits which elevate LDL (bad) cholesterol levels are saturated and trans fats.
Egg protein is the ‘gold standard’ in protein quality by which other protein sources, such as soy and whey, are compared. There are several methods to determine the quality of a protein. Most experts rely on the ‘biological value’ scale. Using this method, an egg scores a 100 (which is a perfect score). All of an egg’s protein is readily digested, absorbed and used by your body. Like meat, eggs are ‘complete’ protein foods meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids (must be obtained through diet) required for human health.
The protein in an egg is divided between the yolk and white. If you are concerned about cholesterol, you can eat egg whites (fresh or powdered) but, on the biological value scale, egg whites score an 88. While still a good score, roughly half of an egg’s protein is found in the yolk.
One extra large fresh, whole egg (56 g) provides about 80 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 g carbohydrate and 7 g protein, as much as you’ll find in 1-oz. of beef, fish or chicken. On a 2,000 calorie diet, 7 g protein meets 14% of the Recommended Daily Value (DV) for protein. The fat is found in the yolk, but so is 3 g of the protein (in a large yolk) and 66% of an egg’s calories. The yolk, however, is rich in a variety of vitamin and minerals, most notably selenium, phosphorus, vitamin A and several B vitamins.
A large egg white (about 33 g) is low in calories, offering only 16 and no fat or cholesterol but 4 g protein. Considering how low in calories egg whites are, they are extremely nutrient-dense (providing lots of nutrients per calorie/serving). Most of the vitamins and minerals are concentrated in the yolk with the exception of selenium. Egg whites are a good source of this important trace mineral.
Of course the size of the egg matters. If you choose medium-sized eggs, each provides about 63 calories and 6 g protein (divided evenly between the yolk and white). Dried (powdered) egg whites are cholesterol-free and a concentrated source of high-quality protein. One ounce of dried egg white powder (28 g) offers about 105 calories, no fat or cholesterol and 23 g protein (the equivalent of roughly 3-oz. meat). Liquid egg ‘substitute’ is composed mostly of colored egg whites. A 1.5 fluid oz. serving of this cholesterol-free alternative provides 39 calories, 2 g fat and 6 g protein, the equivalent (in protein) of a medium-sized egg.