For years we’ve heard about the health benefits of eating eggs. Eggs are a cheap, versatile source of protein, and we’ve scrambled, poached, baked and whipped them into everything from soups to custards. But what about the eggshell? Studies suggest that we may be missing out on a valuable source of calcium when we toss out eggshells. In addition to the nutritional benefits eggshells provide, we’ve found a variety of uses for them, both in the garden and around the home. So can you eat an eggshell? It’s a common question regarding eggs, up there with are eggs dairy? Here are the surprising things you should know about eggshell nutrition.

Eggshells and Calcium

The short answer to this is, “yes.” When thoroughly cleaned and properly prepared, eggshells are edible. The bigger question might be, “Why would I WANT to eat eggshells?” To answer that, we have to look at the amount of calcium contained in an eggshell, which provide a large portion of eggshell benefits. One average eggshell can provide twice the daily-recommended allowance of calcium for an adult, making it one of the best calcium-rich foods around. Calcium is an essential mineral for the growth and development of new bones. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, promote muscle function, and control levels of magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium in the blood. When we take into consideration the prevalence of calcium deficiency in the average diet, eggshells are clearly a cheap and readily available calcium source. In fact, some studies indicate that calcium derived from eggshells may be more beneficial than the same amounts derived from calcium supplements, since the body processes the food-based eggshell calcium more slowly, thus reducing the risks involved in calcium overconsumption.

Eggshells Protect Tooth Enamel

Chicken eggshell powder is also a key component to dental studies focusing on the remineralization of the enamel in teeth. In research published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, eggshell powder was mixed into a glycerin solution or methylcellulose gel and applied to teeth that had been chemically demineralized. The results showed an increase in new enamel to these damaged teeth. This study also determined that in comparison to other natural calcium sources, chicken eggshell powder contained lower levels of toxic materials, such as lead, aluminum, cadmium and mercury. In addition, eggshells can be used in the production of Wollastonite, a material used in the synthesis of bioactive materials like dental root prosthetics. These benefits combined help make the eggshell one of the best foods for teeth.

Eggshells Possess Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The powdered outer shells aren’t the only components of eggshells proving to have useful medical applications. One study gauged the effectiveness of using eggshell membranes as an alternative therapy for joint connective tissue disorders, such as arthritis, lupus, gout and back pain. These conditions are commonly treated with analgesics or anti-inflammatory drugs, which have limited effectiveness and can create cardiac risks and gastrointestinal issues.

Just google “eggshell recipes” and find many ways to benefit from eggshells.