Is It Safe To Eat Eggs During Pregnancy? Benefits And Risks

✔ Research-backed

MomJunction believes in providing reliable, research-backed information to you. As per our strong editorial policy requirements, we base our health articles on references (citations) taken from authority sites, international journals, and research studies. However, if you find any incongruencies, feel free to write to us.

Although eggs are considered one of the richest sources of protein, you may want to know if it is safe to eat eggs during pregnancy. Eggs are a must-have in a balanced diet as they provide all the required nutrients such as minerals and fats. However, there are certain restrictions and rules to follow regarding food during pregnancy.

And even though egg may be a healthy option for pregnancy, it may have certain side effects on maternal health and fetal development if taken in excess. Read on to know more about the benefits and risks of eating eggs during pregnancy and the precautions to take.

In This Article

Is It Safe To Eat Eggs While Pregnant?

Yes, it is safe to eat eggs during pregnancy, provided they are completely cooked or pasteurized. Raw or undercooked eggs contain harmful bacteria such as salmonella that is likely to cause food poisoning. Cooking and pasteurizing the eggs will kill the bacteria, and it will reduce the risk of salmonella poisoning (1).

Nutritional Value Of An Egg

Find below the nutrition table that shows the nutrients present per 100g of a hard-boiled egg (2):

NUTRIENTAMOUNT
Energy155kcal
Protein12.6g
Total lipid (fat)10.6g
Carbohydrates1.12g
Cholesterol373mg
Calcium, Ca50mg
Iron, Fe1.19mg
Magnesium, Mg10mg
Phosphorus, P172mg
Potassium, K126mg
Sodium, Na124mg
Selenium, Se130mg
Zinc1.05mg
Iron1.19mg
Copper0.013mg
Folate44μg
Choline294mg
Vitamin B121.11μg
Vitamin D87IU

What Are The Benefits Of Eating Eggs During Pregnancy?

Eggs are nutrient-rich foods good for both the mother and the developing baby. The benefits of including them in your maternal diet are mentioned next:

  • Rich protein sources: Protein is essential for the healthy development of the baby as every fetal cell is made of protein. Eating eggs in sufficient quantities can be helpful for the growing fetus (3). Eggs are a complete source of protein, since they contain all nine essential amino acids, which the body cannot synthesize.
Protein from eggs can help fetus grow

Image: Shutterstock

  • Rich sources of essential prenatal vitamins B 2, B 6, B12, vitamin D, and minerals such as selenium,zinc,iron, folic acid, and copper.
  • Fetal brain development: Eggs contain good levels of choline that is good for the growth and development of the fetal brain. It will, therefore, protect the baby from neural tube defects (4) (5).
Eggs during pregnancy can support fetal brain development

Image: IStock

  • Provides calories: You will require about 200 to 300 extra calories in a day during pregnancy (6). An average-sized egg gives around 70 calories, thus helping meet the calorie requirement of both the mother and the baby (7).
  • Regulates cholesterol: Eating eggs regularly will balance the cholesterol levels in the body (8). You should talk to your doctor about your diet if you have a cholesterol issue.

protip_icon Quick fact
Eggs are a good source of iodine, essential for thyroid hormone production. Lack of this mineral during pregnancy increases the baby’s risk of congenital hypothyroidism and mental retardation (20).

How Many Eggs Can A Pregnant Woman Eat In A Day?

The daily intake of eggs depends on the cholesterol levels in your body. It is advisable to include three to four eggs a week throughout your gestation period, if your cholesterol levels are normal.

How To Select The Best Eggs During Pregnancy?

Though some foods are loaded with high nutrition, they might be harmful if not correctly chosen. Remember the below points while picking eggs from a store:

  • Do not forget to check the best-before or sell-by date for packaged eggs.
  • Do not buy eggs that have cracked shells as they are susceptible to bacteria and dirt.
  • Prefer buying organic eggs as they do not use any antibiotics or hormones in the poultry (9).
  • Do a freshness test: Put the eggs in a bowl of water. If they float, they are not fresh, and if they sink to the bottom, they are considered fresh. Another way is to shake the egg near your ear. If it makes a splattering sound, it is not fresh. And if it doesn’t, it is a fresh egg (10).
Expecting moms should consume fresh eggs during pregnancy

Image: IStock

  • Do not use an egg right out of the refrigerator. Let it sit at room temperature for at least two hours. This is to prevent bacterial contamination of the egg that undergoes perspiration when it is moved to a warmer space from a colder space.

protip_icon Did you know?
Commercially produced eggnog, sauces, and ice cream are made using pasteurized eggs and do not pose the risk of salmonella (21).

What Is The Correct Way To Store Eggs?

To avoid bacterial contamination, store the eggs in the following manner (11):

  • Keep them in egg trays inside the refrigerator to lower the chance of spoilage.
  • Keep them in a separate tray, away from other food items.
  • Store in the central area of the refrigerator, where the temperature is consistent, rather than on the side of the door.
  • Do not store hard-boiled eggs in the fridge for more than three days.

How To Include Eggs In A Pregnancy Diet?

Here is how you can cook or prepare eggs to include in your pregnancy diet and satisfy your cravings (12):

  • Boil an egg for at least five to seven minutes so that it is properly cooked.
  • If you prefer frying eggs, fry them such that the white becomes solid and is no longer translucent.
  • You can add new flavors and texture by using spices and vegetables rather than eating them plain.

protip_icon Quick tip
A wholesome breakfast could be sliced boiled eggs over whole-grain toast with mashed avocado and a dash of black pepper.

What Is The Shelf Life Of Eggs?

  • An egg should be ideally consumed within 28 days from the time it is laid.
  • Consume boiled eggs within two to three days
  • Foods containing eggs in any form need to be consumed immediately.

Risks Of Eating Eggs During Pregnancy

Consuming eggs might be risky if you do not choose or cook them correctly.

  • Raw or undercooked eggs contain Salmonella bacteria that cause food poisoning (1). It can lead to serious effects including high fever, vomiting or increased morning sickness, diarrhea, dehydration, and abdominal pain. Sometimes, it might also lead to miscarriage or cause complications during childbirth such as preterm labor.
  • During pregnancy, it is possible for you to transmit salmonellosis to your baby. If your baby is born with the infection, they may experience symptoms such as diarrhea and fever shortly after birth, and could also be at risk of developing meningitis.
Eating raw or undercooked eggs raise risk of food poisoning

Image: Shutterstock

  • Some women are likely to develop allergic reactions such as skin rash, hives, and nasal congestion.
  • Egg yolk could cause dangerous cholesterol build-up if you are already suffering from cholesterol issues.

Precautions To Avoid Bacterial Infections With Egg Consumption

  • Eggs should be cooked to 160°F (1)
  • Handle eggs with thoroughly washed hands
  • Use clean utensils that are cleaned with hot water
  • Do not splatter raw egg over other food items
  • Do not place eggs near other foods
  • Clean the platform and utensils with hot water after cooking eggs
  • Do not consider eating eggs outside if you are not sure of the quality or its conditions of preparation.
  • Avoid consuming if you get any unusual smell or if the egg is runny (13).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is consuming boiled eggs good for conceiving?

Vitamins and nutrients such as Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids (like DHA) promote fertility and improve conception rates (14). Since eggs, cooked or boiled, are a rich source of these nutrients (15), we can conclude that egg consumption is good for conceiving.

2. Is egg yolk good for pregnancy?

Yes. Egg yolks are a rich source of protein, calcium, vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential minerals such as iodine and phosphorus, which are beneficial for pregnant women (16).

3. Which part of the egg is good for pregnancy?

Egg yolks are more nutritious and beneficial for pregnant women (16). Also, it is advised to eat thoroughly cooked or pasteurized eggs while pregnant (17).

4. How long should you boil an egg while pregnant?

It is recommended to eat hard-boiled eggs while pregnant, which requires eggs to be boiled in water for around 10–12 minutes (18).

5. Is there any relationship between egg consumption and gestational diabetes during pregnancy?

Studies indicate that including higher amounts of eggs in the pregnancy diet can reduce the risk of gestational diabetes in women (19).

Eggs are protein-rich food sources that offer a pregnant woman several health benefits. If you are thinking about the safety of consuming eggs during pregnancy, know that you may include them while following certain precautionary measures. When buying, choose eggs that are fresh, uncracked, and organic. Make sure to boil or cook eggs properly before consuming them to avoid the risk of allergies, food poisoning, or other adverse potential outcomes of consuming raw eggs. If you have any concerns about eating eggs while pregnant, you may clear your doubts with your healthcare provider.

Infographic: List Of Foods That Might Contain Raw Eggs

Pregnant women are advised not to eat raw eggs due to the risk of salmonellosis. Our infographic brings you a list of foods that might contain raw eggs. Save this list on your phone or pin it on your pantry door to steer clear of these foods.

common foods that might be made with raw eggs (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Cooked entirely or pasteurized eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy.
  • Raw or unpasteurized eggs may contain salmonella and cause food poisoning.
  • Eggs are rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals, and help manage cholesterol levels.
  • Choline in eggs is crucial for fetal brain development.
  • If cholesterol levels are normal, consuming 3-4 eggs per week is safe.
egg during pregnancy_illustration

Image: Stable Diffusion/MomJunction Design Team

Are you expecting and questioning the compatibility of eggs with pregnancy? Your answers await in this video, where the truth about eggs and their relation to pregnancy is unveiled.

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.

1. Food Safety for Pregnant Women; U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
2. Egg, whole, cooked, hard-boiled; U.S. Department Of Agriculture
3. Fatemeh Borazjani et al.; Milk and Protein Intake by Pregnant Women Affects Growth of Foetus; J Health Popul Nutr (2013)
4. Kate Girard; Pregnancy & Post-Partum Nutrition; University of Montana
5. Shaw GM et al.; Choline and risk of neural tube defects in a folate-fortified population; Epidemiology (2009)
6. Healthy Eating During Pregnancy; UC Davis Medical Center (2013)
7. Shell Eggs; USDA (2012)
8. Rachel E. Scherr et al.; Nutrition and Health Info Sheet: Cholesterol; Center for Nutrition in Schools Department of Nutrition University of California, Davis (2016)
9. What points should you consider when buying eggs; Egg Safety Center.
10. How to Tell If Eggs Are Good or Bad: The Ultimate Egg Test; Utopia.org (2018)
11. Alice Henneman & Joyce Jensen; Cracking the Date Code on Egg Cartons; University Of Nebraska–Lincoln
12. Dairy and Eggs from Food Safety for Moms to Be; U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2018)
13. Eating Runny Eggs Is Not Safe; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Footer Legal (2017)
14. Fertility and diet: Is there a connection? Harvard Medical School
15. Egg, whole, raw, fresh; US Department of Agriculture
16. Comparing egg white and egg yolk; British Lion Eggs
17. Eating Eggs During Pregnancy; Australian eggs
18. 5 Snack Foods to Eat While Pregnant; Hopkins Medicine
19. Alireza Milajerdi et al.; (2018); Associations between higher egg consumption during pregnancy with lowered risks of high blood pressure and gestational diabetes mellitus; NCBI
20. Pregnancy and diet; Better Health
21. Foods to avoid when pregnant; American Pregnancy Association

Was this article helpful?
Like buttonDislike button
Burcu Saygan Karamürsel is a board certified obstetrics - gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine specialist with 22 years of experience. She is currently working in Ankara,Turkey. A graduate from Hacettepe University Medical School, she has also attended a fellowship programme at Bonn University Hospital, Perinatology Department.

Read full bio of Dr. Burcu Saygan Karamürsel
Rebecca is a pregnancy writer and editor with a passion for delivering research-based and engaging content in areas of fertility, pregnancy, birth, and post-pregnancy. She did her graduation in Biotechnology and Genetics from Loyola Academy, Osmania University and obtained a certification in ‘Nutrition and Lifestyle in Pregnancy’ from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU).

Read full bio of Rebecca Malachi
Swati Patwal
Swati PatwalM.Sc. (Food & Nutrition), MBA
Swati Patwal is a clinical nutritionist, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and a toddler mom with more than a decade of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She started her career as a CSR project coordinator for a healthy eating and active lifestyle project catering to school children.

Read full bio of Swati Patwal
Dr. Joyani Das
Dr. Joyani DasM.Pharm, PhD
Dr. Joyani Das did her post-graduation from Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra and PhD in Pharmacology. Previously, she worked as an associate professor, faculty of Pharmacology, for two years. With her research background in preclinical studies and a zeal for scientific writing, she joined MomJunction as a health writer.

Read full bio of Dr. Joyani Das