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OSU Extension Educator
Low in calories and high in protein and important nutrients, eggs pack a powerful nutritional punch inside their tidy little shells. At only about 70 calories each, eggs contain protein and many essential vitamins and minerals.
Eggs can make a great addition to your healthy lifestyle plan as long as you consider how they fit with your overall diet. Generally, a large egg can contain more than 6 grams of protein, but only 4.5 grams of fat, which is just 7 percent of the daily value. According to the USDA Nutrient Database, a large egg contains about 186 mg of cholesterol, compared to 141 mg for a small egg. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends keeping your total cholesterol intake below 300 mg a day. Keep in mind many baked goods also contain eggs.
For those who do include eggs in their daily diet, thoroughly cooking them is important in making sure they are safe to eat. Handling and preparing both fresh eggs and egg products with care will help decrease the risk of foodborne illness. For example, scrambled eggs should be cooked until they are firm and not runny, while fried, poached, boiled or baked eggs should be cooked until both the egg white and yolk are firm.
When it comes to egg mixtures, such as in casseroles, the best strategy is to cook the mixture until its center is 160 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer. You can adapt recipes that call for uncooked eggs by heating the eggs in one of the recipe’s other liquid ingredients, over low heat, stirring consistently until it reaches 160 degrees. Then you just add the rest of the ingredients, or use pasteurized eggs or egg products, which also are safe to use in recipes that aren’t cooked.
If you are planning to whip up a meringue-topped confection, you should be safe as long as the pie is baked at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. In the case of chiffon pies and fruit whips, substitute pasteurized dried egg whites, whipped cream or a whipped topping for raw, beaten egg whites.
Since dry meringue shells, divinity candy and seven-minute frosting are made by mixing hot sugar syrup and beaten egg whites, they are safe to consume, however, it is a good idea to avoid icing recipes that call for uncooked eggs or egg whites.
If you enjoy making homemade ice cream or eggnog, use a cooked-egg mixture and heat it gently to 160 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature, or again, you can substitute pasteurized eggs or egg products.