Eggs tested by USDA have lower cholesterol and more vitamin D than previously thought

Eggs are getting a bit of a reprieve on the cholesterol front. A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Tuesday says eggs are lower in cholesterol and higher in vitamin D than previously thought.

The federal agency released these findings (helpfully publicized by the egg industry) after testing a random sample of eggs across the country and examining their nutrient value. It found the average large egg contained 185 milligrams of cholesterol (14% less than prior measures) and 41 IU of vitamin D (64% more). The results were compared with testing done in 2002.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this post said the USDA’s recent random sample of eggs was done in 2002. In fact, the findings are new and compared with testing done in 2002.

Why the shift? The decrease in cholesterol might reflect an improvement in hens’ diet, the agency says in a statement. Here’s the full USDA statement.


And the American Heart Assn. offers this primer on cholesterol. Note that dietary cholesterol is but one factor in blood cholesterol levels -- and that those levels are more complex than you might think (think “fats”). The AHA says: “Saturated fatty acids are the main culprit in raising blood cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease. Trans fats also raise blood cholesterol. But dietary cholesterol also plays a part. The average American man consumes about 337 milligrams of cholesterol a day; the average woman, 217 milligrams.”

You can expect to see the revised nutrition information on egg cartons soon. But one thing hasn’t changed: Eggs are still about 70 calories each.