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The oval body, produced by the female of birds, containing the germ of a new individual.

Eggs are a rich source of protein, vitamins B12, A, D and E; as well as including a range of other minerals including iron, selenium and zinc.

A medium hens' egg contains 217mg of cholesterol - two-thirds of the daily cholesterol intake set by the WHO. However, recent research shows that it's a high intake of saturated fat, rather than cholesterol, that is a major factor in raised blood-cholesterol levels. Eggs are reasonably low in saturated fat at around 2g per medium egg.

The consensus is that one egg per day is the healthy maximum.

Eggs can carry the salmonella bacteria, which can cause serious illness. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and unwell should avoid eating raw or lightly-cooked eggs. Once cooked until hard, any salmonella is destroyed. To be safe, any dish containing raw eggs should be kept in the fridge and eaten within 24 hours. Egg shells are porous, so they may pick up a hint of strong foods stored nearby.

Eggs need to be fresh to be at their most nutritious, B vitamins are depleted with storage (especially if the eggs have been kept in warm, light conditions).

If worried about their freshness, put them in water, and any that float should be thrown away.

Eggs are invaluable for thickening, binding, raising and glazing. See 'Columbus eggs'; 'Eggs, their history in the human diet'; 'Eggs and shop labels'; 'Egg, Cotswold Leghorn'; 'Egg, Duck'; 'Egg, Emu'; 'Egg, Goose'; 'Egg' Maran'; Egg, 'Ostrich'; 'Egg, Quail'; "Egg Whites; Whipping";

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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