Nutritionists rarely have a kind word to say about sodium, largely because the average American consumes far too much of it. Sodium isn’t a total dietary demon, however – you actually need a small amount each day to maintain normal blood pressure and keep fluids and minerals balanced throughout your body. While sodium is found in a wide variety of foods, most natural sources – including eggs – contain relatively low amounts.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large hard-boiled egg supplies about 80 calories and 60 milligrams of sodium, or less than 3 percent of the daily value. Eggs are considered a low-sodium food because they provide less than 5 percent of the daily value for sodium, or 120 milligrams, per serving. Almost 90 percent of an egg’s sodium content is in its white – the uncooked white of one large egg has about 55 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA. With fewer than 10 milligrams of sodium, a single large egg yolk is virtually sodium-free.
Sodium is such a prevalent part of the American diet that it’s probably hard for most people in the United States to taste low amounts of naturally occurring sodium. You’ll get the same amount of sodium from an average-sized sweet potato, a 1-cup serving of fresh lima beans or a cup of cooked Chinese cabbage as you will from a large egg white. According to the American Dietetic Association, natural sources represent just 10 percent of the sodium consumed by Americans each day. Processed foods, on the other hand, tend to be relatively high in sodium. One homemade chocolate chip cookie, a single packet of ketchup, a 12-ounce can of grape soda and 1 tablespoon of store-bought hummus also contain about the same amount of sodium as a large egg white.
Adequate intake guidelines suggest that healthy, moderately active adults who get about 1,500 milligrams of sodium a day will have enough to replace any sodium lost through perspiration. This recommendation is also meant to help ensure an otherwise healthy diet, since sodium is a natural part of so many nutritious foods. According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, adults who consume more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure. Even though high blood pressure is a major cause of stroke and heart disease, the average American consumes about 3,300 milligrams of sodium each day. More than 75 percent of this sodium can be attributed to processed foods.
Keeping track of the sodium in your diet is a good way to keep your blood pressure in check and reduce your risk of heart disease. If eggs are a regular part of your diet, however, keep in mind that researchers don’t have a complete picture of how eggs impact cardiovascular health. According to MayoClinic.com, a 2012 study published in the journal “Atherosclerosis” concluded that egg yolks cause almost the same degree of damage to arteries as smoking cigarettes. According to the study, the arterial damage associated with egg yolks is most significant for those who are already at risk for developing heart disease. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, are overweight or have a genetic history of heart disease, therefore, you may want to opt for egg whites over whole eggs.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Egg, White, Raw, Fresh
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Egg, Yolk, Raw, Fresh
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Egg, Whole, Cooked, Hard-Boiled
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: Sodium, Na (mg) Content of Selected Foods Per Common Measure, Sorted By Nutrient Content
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: Sodium
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Where’s the Sodium?
- MayoClinic.com: Eggs and Heart Disease – Still Controversial
- American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff, M.S., R.D.
Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.