Nutrition Unscrambled

Glossary Terms for ENC Blog


Albumen (egg white): Depending on the size of the egg, albumen accounts for most of an egg’s liquid weight, about 66%. The white contains more than half the egg’s total protein, a majority of the egg’s niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and sodium, and none of the fat. The white of a large egg contains about 17 calories.

American Dietetic Association (ADA): The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. For more information, visit

American Egg Board: The advertising, research and promotion organization for the egg industry. All members are egg producers who have been appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to administer the program on behalf of all egg producers in the 48 contiguous states. The Board was authorized by the Egg Research and Consumer Information Act passed by the 93rd Congress, and the activities of the American Egg Board are conducted under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The staff of the American Egg Board implements the programs and policies of the Board. Major programs consist of a national advertising campaign, nutrition and food safety activities conducted through the AEB-funded Egg Nutrition Center, strong consumer education and foodservice efforts, and industry and market development.

Avian influenza (AI) or “bird flu”: a virus that infects all types of avian species, including wild birds and domestic poultry. AI is an animal health issue that causes mild to severe symptoms in birds and, in its most extreme form, can be fatal to infected birds. In egg-laying hens, symptoms include respiratory problems, decreased food intake and slowed or stopped egg production. Proper cooking easily destroys all AI virus particles, and in the very rare chance of encountering an egg from a hen with AI, one would not get AI through eating thoroughly cooked eggs. For more information on avian influenza, click here.


Body mass index (BMI): A number calculated from a person’s weight and height that is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. To calculate BMI, divide weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiply by a conversion factor of 703. According to BMI categories, overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9; obese is a BMI of 30 or greater.

Biotin: One of the B vitamins which plays an important role in cell metabolism and the utilization of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Biotin is present in many foods, including egg yolk, and is synthesized by the body.


Cage-free eggs: Eggs laid by hens at indoor floor operations, sometimes called free-roaming hens. The hens may roam in a building, room or open area, usually in a barn or poultry house, and have unlimited access to food and water.

Calcium: The major role of the mineral calcium is in building and maintaining bones and teeth. Calcium is also essential for many other body functions related to the blood, nerves and muscles. One large egg provides 28 milligrams (mg) of calcium, most of which is in the yolk.

Carotenoids: Pigments made by plants that are commonly found in orange fruits and vegetables and some dark green vegetables. Some carotenoids are used to make vitamin A.

Cholesterol: A waxy, fat-like substance made in the liver, and found in the blood and in all cells of the body. Cholesterol is essential for life and is needed for making cell walls, tissues, hormones, vitamin D, and bile acid. Most of the cholesterol found in blood and tissues comes from internal synthesis. However, cholesterol also comes from eating foods taken from animals such as egg yolks, meat, and whole-milk dairy products. Too much cholesterol in the blood may build up in blood vessel walls, block blood flow to tissues and organs, and increase the risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Dietary cholesterol does not automatically raise blood cholesterol levels, and research has shown that saturated fat may be more likely to raise blood cholesterol levels. A wealth of research has also shown that eggs do not have a significant impact on blood cholesterol levels, so it’s not necessary to avoid egg yolks.

One Large egg contains 186 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol, 14 percent lower than the 212 mg previously reported.

Choline: Choline is an essential nutrient that is required for the most basic functions of the body such as normal cell activity, liver function and transporting nutrients throughout the body. Choline is particularly important for pregnant and breastfeeding women because it contributes to brain and memory development, and can help reduce the risk of certain neural tube birth defects (NTDs). Egg yolks are an excellent source of choline (125 mg per large egg yolk) and provide 23% of a pregnant woman’s daily needs.


Daily Reference Values (DRVs): A term similar to Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs, see definition) for food components not covered by RDIs. Some DRVs are based on reference calorie intakes of 2,000 (average needed by post-menopausal women, women who exercise moderately, teenage girls and sedentary men) and 2,500 calories (adequate for young men). Others are based on dietary recommendations suggested by some health and nutrition groups. Daily Reference Values are intended to serve as a tool for food comparisons, not as a strict dietary prescription. For more information on DRVs, click here.

Daily Values (DVs): A figure on food labels that represents age-adjusted average recommended levels of protein, fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate (including dietary fiber and sugars), vitamins and minerals for various groups of people of different ages and sexes. Since they are averages, many DVs are lower than the familiar U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs, see definition), which represent the highest values for each nutrient. In some cases, DVs are also lower due to new nutritional evidence considered by the National Academy. DVs serve as a tool for food comparisons and not as a strict dietary prescription.

Diabetes (type 1, type 2): A disease that affects how the body uses blood glucose, commonly called blood sugar. Blood sugar levels are controlled by insulin, a hormone in the body that helps move glucose from the blood to muscles and other tissues. Diabetes occurs when the pancreas does not make enough insulin or the body does not respond to the insulin that is made. There are two main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes (also known as Juvenile Diabetes): A life-long condition usually occurring before the age of 30 in which the pancreas stops making insulin. Without insulin, the body is not able to use glucose (blood sugar) for energy. People with this disease must inject insulin, follow a specific eating plan and test blood sugar several times a day.
  • Type 2 diabetes. The most common form of diabetes occurring most frequently in people who are overweight or obese.  People with type 2 diabetes may be able to control their condition by losing weight through diet and exercise. They may also need to inject insulin or take medicine along with continuing to follow a healthy program of diet and physical activity. Although type 2 diabetes commonly occurs in adults, an increasing number of children and adolescents who are overweight are also developing type 2 diabetes.

Dietary fiber: The component of plant foods that the body cannot digest or absorb. Fiber is classified into two categories: soluble fiber, which slows digestions and has been shown to lower blood cholesterol and possibly lower blood-sugar levels, and insoluble fiber, which speeds digestion through the intestinal tract and adds bulk to the stool.


Egg Nutrition Center: The nutrition and research organization funded by the American Egg Board (see definition) that was established to provide commercial egg producers and processors, health promotion agencies, and consumers with a resource for scientifically accurate information on egg nutrition and the role of eggs in the health and nutrition of the American diet.

Egg Safety Center: Under the administration of the United Egg Producers (see definition), the Egg Safety Center works to educate consumers on ways to further reduce the incidence of food-borne illness related to egg products; provide egg producers with the most up-to-date information available; and act as a food safety resource for retailers and food service companies in the U.S.

Egg substitutes: Liquid egg products that typically contain only egg white with the yolk replaced by other ingredients, such as non-fat milk, tofu, vegetable oil, emulsifiers, stabilizers, antioxidants, gum, artificial color, minerals and vitamins. Egg substitutes contain the high-quality protein of egg white as well as the white’s vitamins and minerals. However, each formula for replacing the yolk differs, so check labels for total nutrient content.


Fat: A concentrated source of food energy containing 9 calories per gram. In addition to supplying energy, fat aids in the absorption of certain vitamins; enhances flavor, aroma and mouthfeel of food; and adds satiety to the diet. Fatty acids, the basic chemical units of fat, are either saturated (found primarily in fats of animal origin and may increase blood cholesterol levels), monounsaturated (found in fats of both plant and animal origin and may improve blood cholesterol levels) or polyunsaturated (found primarily in fats of plant origin and also may improve blood cholesterol levels.

A large egg contains about 5 grams of fat – about 1.5 grams saturated and 2.8 grams unsaturated.

Folic acid: A water-soluble B vitamin that works along with vitamin B12 and vitamin C to help break down, use, and create new proteins. It is essential for cell growth and reproduction.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): FDA is an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that is responsible for protecting the public health by assuring the safety, efficacy and security of human and veterinary drugs, biological products, medical devices, our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, and products that emit radiation, and by regulating the manufacture, marketing, and distribution of tobacco products. For more information on the Food and Drug Administration, visit

Food guide pyramid: The United States Department of Agriculture food guide pyramid, called MyPyramid, contains recommendations on diet and exercise based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. MyPyramid is intended to help Americans become more aware of what they eat and what their nutrient requirements are. For more information on the Food guide pyramid, visi

Due to their high-quality protein, eggs are included in the meat and meat alternates group. One egg equals one ounce of lean meat, poultry, fish or seafood.

Free-range eggs: Eggs produced by hens raised outdoors or that have access to the outdoors, as weather allows. In addition to consuming a diet of grains, these hens may forage for wild plants and insects and are sometimes called pasture-fed hens. The insects and other organic matter in the diet of free-range hens may result in such a very small increase in egg protein content that it’s considered insignificant. The nutrient content of eggs from the same breed of hen fed the same diet is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations. For more information on free-range eggs, click here.


Grading (eggs): Classification determined by the interior and exterior quality of the egg at the time it is packed. In some egg-packing plants, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides a grading service for shell eggs. The official USDA grade shield on an egg carton certifies that the eggs have been processed, packaged and certified under federal supervision according to the U.S. Standards, Grades and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs established by USDA. Plant processing equipment, facilities, sanitation and operating procedures are continuously monitored by the USDA grader. For more information on grading, click here.


High-density lipoprotein (HDL): Lipoproteins (a unit made up of proteins and fats) that are often referred to as “good” cholesterol. They act as cholesterol scavengers, picking up excess cholesterol in the blood and taking it back to the liver where it’s broken down. The higher the HDL level, the less “bad” cholesterol will be in the blood.



Julian date: Starting with January 1 as 001 and ending with December 31 as 365, these numbers represent the consecutive days of the year. This number system is sometimes used on egg cartons to denote the day the eggs are packed. Fresh shell eggs can be stored in their cartons in the refrigerator with insignificant quality loss for four to five weeks beyond this date.



Lecithin: One of the factors in egg yolk that helps to stabilize emulsions such as Hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise and other salad dressings. Lecithin contains a phospholipid called acetycholine which has been demonstrated to have a profound effect on brain function.

Lutein: A carotenoid called xanthophylls, yellow-orange plant pigments, commonly found in dark-green leafy vegetables, such as spinach and kale, and are well-absorbed from egg yolk. This carotenoid (along with zeaxanthin) has been shown to reduce the risks of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in those 65 and older.

A large egg yolk contains 166 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin. Research has shown that, due to the egg yolk’s fat content, the yolk’s lutein and zeaxanthin may be more easily absorbed by the body than the lutein and zeaxanthin from other sources. A specific recommendation for daily consumption of these carotenoids hasn’t yet been set.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL): Lipoproteins (a unit made up of proteins and fats) that are often referred to as “bad” cholesterol. They carry cholesterol throughout the body, delivering it to different organs and tissues. If the body has more cholesterol than it needs, the excess keeps circulating in the blood. Over time, circulating LDL cholesterol can enter blood vessel walls and start to build up under the vessel lining. Deposits of LDL cholesterol particles within the vessel walls are called plaques, and they begin to narrow blood vessels. Eventually, plaques can narrow the vessels to the point of blocking blood flow, causing coronary artery disease.



National Academy of Sciences (NAS): NAS is an honorific society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. For more information on the National Academy of Sciences, visit

National Research Council (NRC): NRC functions under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The four organizations are collectively referred to as the National Academies. The mission of the NRC is to improve government decision making and public policy, increase public education and understanding, and promote the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge in matters involving science, engineering, technology, and health. For more information on the National Research Council, visit

Nutrient density: The ratio of nutrients to calories, sometimes called the nutrient-calorie benefit ratio (NCBR). Foods that supply significant amounts of one or more nutrients compared to the number of calories they supply are called nutrient dense. Nutrient-dense foods help provide necessary nutrients without excess calories.

Eggs have a high nutrient density because they provide a wide range of nutrients in proportion to their calorie count (about 70 calories per large egg). Naturally nutrient-dense eggs are an excellent source of choline (per large egg, 23% of the Daily Value, DV) and selenium (20% of the DV) a good source of high-quality protein (13% of the DV), riboflavin (10% of the DV), and vitamin D (10% of the DV. Eggs also supply varying amounts of other nutrients, including other vitamins and minerals.

Nutrient-enhanced eggs: Eggs created by varying the hens’ diets. Some shell eggs on the market have altered fat content. For most people, dietary fat – especially saturated fat – has a much greater effect on blood cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol. So, some eggs have reduced saturated fats and increased unsaturated fats. Other eggs are enriched with omega-3 fatty acids, the fats found in fish which are considered to be beneficial. Still other eggs have added vitamins, minerals or carotenoids. Check labels for nutrient facts.

Nutrition Education and Labeling Act: The 1990 Nutrition Education and Labeling Act requires most foods, including eggs, to carry a nutrition label. Current labels express nutrients as a percentage of Daily Values (DVs) for a 2,000-calorie diet, rather than a percentage of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs).

Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition: The Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition is a partnership that brings together leading scientific researchers, health professionals, communications experts, and agricultural commodity organizations. Members are composed of 21 agricultural commodity organizations that represent the five basic food groups. For more information on the Nutrient Rich Foods Coalition, visit


Obesity: For adults, a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 30.

Omega-3 fatty acid (aka linolenic acid): An essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized by the body from other fatty acids and must be obtained from food. Some of the food sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish and shellfish, flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil.

Regular eggs also contain omega-3s, on average about 30 mg per egg. Omega-3-enhanced eggs provide more, from 100 to over 600 mg per egg.

Organic eggs: Eggs produced according to national USDA organic standards related to methods, practices and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock and processed agricultural products. Among other requirements, organic eggs are produced by hens fed rations having ingredients that were grown without most conventional pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers. While growth hormones are also prohibited, no commercial laying hen rations ever contain hormones. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, organic eggs are more expensive than eggs from hens fed conventional feed. The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether or not the ration is organic.

Pasteurized eggs:
Eggs that have been exposed to heat in order to destroy potential bacteria. Due to the heat process, pasteurized eggs may have slightly lower amounts of heat-sensitive vitamins, such as riboflavin, thiamin and folic acid.

Protein: A combination of amino acids, some of which are called essential amino acids because the human body needs them but they cannot be made by the body and must be supplied by food. Eggs are considered a complete protein because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Therefore, eggs are often the measuring stick by which other protein foods are compared against. In addition to the nine essential amino acids, there are nine other amino acids in an egg.

One large egg provides a total of 6 grams of high-quality, complete protein (about 13% of the Daily Value for protein).



Recommended dietary allowances (RDAs): A term used to denote recommendations for 26 nutrients for 18 different population subgroups. RDAs are based on information on nutrient allowances for healthy people from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. This information is revised about every five years and is used to determine the Daily Value and Reference Daily Intake figures used on food labels.

Reference daily intakes (RDIs): A term that replaced the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowances (U.S. RDAs). RDIs are based on a population-weighted average of the latest RDAs for vitamins and minerals for healthy Americans over 4 years old. RDIs are not recommended daily intake figures for any particular age group or sex. They are simply average values for the entire U.S. population


Salmonella: A type of bacteria which can cause foodborne illness (salmonellosis) if ingested in large numbers. The Salmonella group of bacteria can be found in the intestinal tract of animals, birds, insects, reptiles, fish, seafood and people. The bacteria can easily be passed from the intestinal tract to the hands and on to food. Salmonella enteritidis (Se), one member of the Salmonella group that has been found inside a small number of eggs, will not grow at temperatures below 40º F and is killed at 160º F. Temperatures between 40 and 140º F, known as the danger zone, are ideal for rapid growth. Se can be avoided through adequate refrigeration, proper cooking and sanitary kitchen and food handling procedures.

Sarcopenia: Loss of muscle mass, often due to old age.

Satiety: The state of being satisfactorily full.

Saturated fat: A type of fat that has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. It is found in animal foods such as butter, full fat dairy foods, and fatty meats, as well as many processed and takeaway foods.


Trans fat: A fat that is produced when liquid fat (oil) is turned into solid fat through a chemical process called hydrogenation. Trans fatty acids in the diet raise blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.


United Egg Producers: A Capper-Volstead cooperative of egg farmers from all across the United States that represents the ownership of approximately 95% of all the nation’s egg-laying hens. Of the total farm members, 34 serve on the Board of Directors and they along with several others serve on various committees.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): The United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food. For more information on the USDA, visit

Unsaturated fat: A fat that is liquid at room temperature and include polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. It may help to lower blood cholesterol if used in place of satured fats. Examples include the fat found in most nuts, olive oil, avocados, and fish.

USDA Economic Research Service (ERS): The Economic Research Service (ERS) is a primary source of economic information and research in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. ERS conducts a research program to inform public and private decision making on economic and policy issues involving food, farming, natural resources and rural development. For more information on the USDA Economic Research Service, visit


Vitamin A: A fat-soluble vitamin with multiple functions in the body. It helps cells differentiate, an essential part of cell reproduction. Vitamin A is a central component for healthy vision. It nourishes cells in various structures of the eye and is required for the transduction of light into nerve signals in the retina. This vitamin is required during pregnancy, stimulating normal growth and development of the fetus. It also influences the function and development of sperm, ovaries, and placenta and is a vital component of the reproductive process.

Vitamin B12: A water-soluble vitamin that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megalobastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.

Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. It is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. Vitamin C is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is also essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

Vitamin D: A fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body absorb calcium, which bones need to grow. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. Vitamin D also has a role in nerve, muscle, and the immune system.

Eggs are a good source of vitamin D. One large egg has 41 IU of vitamin D, approximately 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin.

Vitamin E: A fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that may protect cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when the body breaks down food, or by environmental exposures like tobacco smoke and radiation. Vitamin E also plays a role in the immune system and metabolic processes.


World Health Organization (WHO): The World Health Organization is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends. For more information on the World Health Organization, visit



Yolk: The yolk, or yellow portion, of an egg makes up about 34% of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat in the egg and a little less than half of the protein. The yolk of a large egg contains about 55 calories, and with the exception of niacin and riboflavin, the yolk contains a higher proportion of the egg’s vitamins than the white, including vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid, pantothenic acid and thiamin. All of the egg’s vitamins A, D, E and K are in the yolk. Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally containing Vitamin D. The yolk also contains more calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc than the white.


Zeaxanthin: See lutein.


Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

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All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.