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Healing Foods Pyramid

Healing Foods Pyramid™

Eggs Image

Eggs are included in the Healing Foods Pyramid™ as part of a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet. This Food Pyramid emphasizes foods that nourish the body, sustain energy over time, contain healing qualities and essential nutrients, and support a sustainable environment.

What are the recommended servings per day?

*The Healing Foods Pyramid™ is suitable for vegetarians and vegans in that all of the categories containing animal products are optional for consumption. One of our goals is to shift the typical meat-centered plate to one that is comprised mostly of plant-based foods. Every individual’s needs are unique. While some bodies thrive on a well-balanced vegetarian or vegan diet, others may not. Animal products provide the richest sources of absorbable vitamin B12, iron, and calcium; therefore individuals choosing not to consume animal products need to ensure adequate intake of these essential nutrients.  Consult with a registered dietitian/certified nutritionist or knowledgeable health care provider regarding your individual needs.

**Some individuals may be sensitive to dietary cholesterol and need to restrict dietary cholesterol consumption. Therefore, consistent with the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), our recommendation for individuals with high cholesterol is to limit yolk consumption to no more than four per week.

Why choose eggs?

  • Protein, Vitamin, and Mineral Content

    -Egg white protein quality is used as the gold standard for comparison with other proteins
    -Whole eggs offer almost every essential vitamin and mineral needed by humans, with the exception of vitamin C
    -Egg yolks contain an array of essential vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are not found in egg whites

  • Source of Carotenoids: Lutein and Zeaxanthin

    -One egg yolk, on average, contains significant amounts of the two carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin
    -Research shows that individuals who consume a greater number of foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin have a lower risk for age related macular degeneration and heart disease

Nutrient Content of an Omega-3 Enriched Large Egg


Whole Egg

Egg White

Egg Yolk

Calories (kcal)




Protein (g)




Carbohydrate (g)




Total Fat (g)




Saturated Fat (g)




*Omega-3 Fatty Acids (mg)




Cholesterol (mg)




Folate (mcg)




Vitamin B12 (mcg)




Vitamin A (IU)




Vitamin D (IU)




Vitamin E (mg)




Vitamin K (mcg)




Choline (mg)




Calcium (mg)




Iron (mg)




Lutein + Zeaxanthin (mcg)




*Omega-3 content varies due to name brand of egg. Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 17 and Egg Nutrition Center web site.

Specific Considerations

Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega-3 enhanced eggs come from chickens that are fed a diet of natural grains fortified with sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as algae or flax seed
  • These fats are an essential component of the human diet and are needed for brain growth and development
  • They may be helpful in the prevention and treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, inflammation, mental health disorders, diabetes, digestive disorders and autoimmune diseases


  • Eggs contain cholesterol, a waxy substance found only in animal products
  • Dietary cholesterol, like that in egg yolks, had been implicated in increasing blood cholesterol levels
  • Recent findings suggest that saturated fat intake has more impact on blood cholesterol than dietary cholesterol does
  • Be aware that eggs are often consumed in combination with whole milk, cream, butter, cheese, and breakfast meats which are all high in saturated fat. These high fat ingredients have a more negative effect on blood cholesterol than the eggs.
  • Eggs can also be found in healthier food choices like pastas and whole grain muffins and baked goods

Know Your Limits for Fat

  • An omega-3 enriched egg provides 100-200 mg more of these essential fatty acids than conventionally produced eggs
  • The Institute of Medicine recommends at least 1 g of omega-3 fatty acids per day for balanced fat consumption, we recommend closer to 2 g per day

Egg Allergy

Although most outgrow it, a common cause of food allergy in infants and young children is the egg. Food allergies are abnormal responses of the body’s immune system to certain foods or ingredients. They can show up as rashes, swelling of the skin, nasal congestion, nausea and diarrhea or the most serious reaction – anaphylactic shock, which is life threatening. People with food allergies usually need to eliminate the problem foods from their diet.

Choosing Eggs

  • Buy high content omega-3 eggs from vegetarian fed chickens
  • Look for USDA Grade AA or A
  • Check expiration date on carton
  • Look for eggs produced by “organic,” “free-range,” and “cage-free” hens

Use of Hormones and Antibiotics

Commercially bred chickens that stay confined in cages and eat standard feed are likely treated with hormones and antibiotics. These animals may produce eggs containing antibiotic residues. To minimize consumption of antibiotic residues and other toxins found in conventionally raised birds, buy organic eggs.

Consider Organic

We recommend organic, free-range eggs because they may contain less antibiotic or hormone residue and they may have a higher omega-3 and vitamin E content.

Free-Range, Cage-free

Free-range, cage-free chickens may have a greater variety of diet, producing eggs that contain more omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Due to the diet and movement ability of free-range, cage-free chickens, their eggs may have better flavor and nutritional value than conventional eggs.

Ideas for Healthy Egg Consumption
  1. When cooking eggs, use canola or olive oil rather than using high saturated fats, such butter or margarine
  2. Hard cooked eggs are a great portable snack
  3. Have an egg sandwich - it has more vitamins and less fat than many meat choices
  4. Add hard cooked eggs to a salad to increase protein content
  5. Add a scrambled egg to veggie-fried rice
  6. Try an omelet with vegetables for a light, quick dinner
  7. Try ethnic variations on eggs such as vegetable fritata, egg foo young, or huevos rancheros with whole wheat tortillas
  8. Keep hard-cooked eggs in the refrigerator for no more than one week
  9. Buy local - visit your local farmers market or the Eat Wild and Eat Well guides to find farm fresh eggs from your area



A Primer on Fats and Oils
American Dietetic Association
Accessed August 26, 2009

Egg, Yolk, Raw, Fresh
USDA Agricultural Research Service – Nutrient Data Laboratory
Accessed August 26, 2009

Heart Healthy Diet Daily Food Guide
National Cholesterol Education Program
Accessed September 22, 2009

Meat and Poultry Labeling Terms
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Accessed August 26, 2009

Nutrient Value of Eggs
Egg Nutrition Center
Accessed August 26, 2009

Organic Food Standards and Labels: The Facts
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Marketing Service
Accessed August 26. 2009

Shell Eggs From Farm to Table
U. S. Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Accessed August 26, 2009

Original Research and Review Articles

Calder PC, et al. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;56(suppl 3):s14-s19.

De Caterina R, et al. Nutritional mechanisms that influence cardiovascular disease. 2006;83(suppl):421s-426s.

Farrell DJ. Enrichment of hen eggs with n-3 long-chain fatty acids and evaluation of enriched eggs in humans. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1998;68:538-544.

Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 2006;9:8-12.

Herron KL, et al. Are the current dietary guidelines regarding egg consumption appropriate? Journal of Nutrition. 2004;134:187-190.

Hu FB, et al. A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1999;281:1387-1394.

Katz DL, et al. Egg consumption and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial. International Journal of Cardiology. 2005; 99: 65-70.

Lombardo YB, et al. Effects of dietary polyunsaturated n-3 fatty acids on dyslipidemia and insulin resistance in rodents and humans. A review. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2006;17:1-13.

McDonald BE. The Canadian experience: why Canada decided against an upper limit for cholesterol. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004;23(6):616s-620s.

Payet M, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid-enriched egg consumption induces accretion of arachidonic acid in erythrocytes of elderly patients. British Journal of Nutrition. 2004;91:789-796.

Qureshi A, et al. Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. Medical Science Monitor. 2007; 13(1):CR1-8.

Ribaya-Mercado JD, et al. Lutein and zeaxanthin and their potential roles in disease prevention. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2004;23(6):567s-587s.

Shapira N, et al. Egg fortification with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA): nutritional benefits versus high n-6 PUFA Western diets, and consumer acceptance. Israeli Medical Association Journal. 2008; 10:262-266

Simopoulos AP. Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70(suppl):560s-569s.

Simopoulos AP. Human requirement for n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Poultry Science. 2000;79(7):961-970.

Valensi, P. Hypertension, single sugars and fatty acids. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2005;19:s5-s9.

Whelan J, et al. Innovative dietary sources of n-3 fatty acids. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2006; 26:75-103.

The Healing Foods Pyramid™ was created by the Nutrition Education Team at the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine, Department of Family Medicine in 2005 and updated in 2009.

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For questions and licensing information please call Dr. Sara Warber at 734-998-7120 x 260 or email