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The healthy way to eat eggs - Eat well

Eggs are a good choice as part of a healthy, balanced diet. As well as being a source of protein, they also contain vitamins and minerals.

Eggs and your diet

Eggs are nutritious – they're a source of:

How many eggs is it safe to eat?

There is no recommended limit on how many eggs people should eat.

Eggs can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but it's best to cook them without adding salt or fat. For example:

  • boiled or poached, without added salt
  • scrambled without butter and using low-fat milk instead of cream

Frying eggs can increase their fat content by around 50%.

Eggs and cholesterol

Having high cholesterol levels in our blood increases our risk of heart disease.

Although eggs contain some cholesterol, the amount of saturated fat we eat has more of an effect on the amount of cholesterol in our blood than the cholesterol we get from eating eggs.

If a GP or health professional has told you to watch your cholesterol levels, your priority should be to cut down on saturated fat across your diet. You can get advice in Eat less saturated fat.

If you are eating a balanced diet, you only need to cut down on eggs if you have been told to do so by a GP or dietitian.

Raw eggs and food poisoning

Infants, children, pregnant women and older people should only have raw or lightly cooked hen eggs if they’re produced in the UK and approved by 1 of 2 recognised food safety assurance schemes.

These groups can safely have raw or partially cooked hen eggs if they are either:

  • British Lion hen eggs (have the lion stamp on them)
  • hen eggs produced under the Laid in Britain egg scheme

All other hen eggs or any other eggs, such as duck, goose or quail, should only be eaten if they’re thoroughly cooked (white and yolk).

This is because these groups are more vulnerable to infection and likely to have more serious symptoms of food poisoning.

Who should not eat any raw or lightly cooked eggs

If you have a severely weakened immune system and you are on a medically supervised diet prescribed by health professionals, keep cooking all eggs until the white and yolk are solid.

When eating raw or lightly cooked eggs, remember to:

  • store eggs safely in a cool, dry place, such as the refrigerator
  • clean all work surfaces, dishes and utensils, and wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs
  • avoid using eggs that are past their best-before dates

Cooking eggs thoroughly is the safest option if you are worried about food poisoning.

Foods that often contain raw hen egg

Foods include:

  • mousses and soufflés
  • some salad dressings and sauces, such as mayonnaise, hollandaise and béarnaise
  • desserts with icing or Italian meringue, and other desserts including ice cream, tiramisu and baked Alaska

If you're worried, ask the person serving you if the food has raw egg in it.

If it does, ask if they used British Lion eggs or eggs from the Laid in Britain scheme.

Avoiding the spread of bacteria

There can be bacteria on the shell as well as inside the egg, which can spread very easily to other foods, as well as to hands, utensils and worktops.

These tips can help avoid the spread of bacteria:

  • keep eggs away from other foods – both when they are in the shell and after you have cracked them
  • be careful not to splash egg onto other foods, worktops or dishes
  • always wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap, and then dry them after touching or working with eggs
  • clean surfaces, dishes and utensils thoroughly using warm soapy water after handling eggs
  • do not use eggs with damaged shells, because dirt or bacteria might have got inside them
  • avoid using eggs that are past their best-before dates

Find out more about how to store food safely

'Best before' dates of eggs

Eggs have a shelf life of 28 days (from the date they were laid to their "best before" date).

Page last reviewed: 25 January 2021
Next review due: 25 January 2024