Can You Eat Egg Shells for Calcium?
Most of us eat eggs regularly and then throw out the egg shells not realizing that there’s actually quite some nutrition hidden in egg shells.
Since about a year ago I have been consuming egg shells on a regular basis after one of my neighbors randomly told me about her diet. At first I was very much surprised to hear that she was eating eggshells instead of just throwing them away because I never knew that egg shells were edible.
But as I learned more about it, I decided to try it for myself. I was already eating free range eggs every day, so I thought, why not try eating the shells too. Are eggshells good for us and how can we best eat them?
Yes, Egg Shells Are Edible and Nutritious
A lot of people actually don’t know (including myself up to a year ago) that egg shells are indeed suitable for human consumption.
It’s important to understand why egg shells could be a good addition to your diet. It’s also important to know how to prepare and store crushed and powdered egg shells as I wouldn’t recommend eating them straight after pealing an egg!
Benefits of Eating Egg Shells
So why would you consider eating eggshells? Can’t we just toss them in the bin like most people do? Sure you can, but then you may be missing out on some nutritional goodness.
Egg Shells for Calcium
The key nutrient in egg shells is calcium, or calcium carbonate. In fact, egg shells consist of 95% calcium carbonate. The makeup of eggs shells is very similar to our bones and teeth so it’s no surprise that egg shells promote bone and teeth health.
According to this study, egg shells are a great source of natural calcium. Half an egg shell can provide you with the recommended daily calcium intake. The study also reveals that the best way to consume and digest egg shells is in a powdered form.
And according to this NCBI study, the natural calcium in egg shells can have positive effects on bone density and can even help prevent and treat osteoporosis.
This makes egg shells an excellent alternative for calcium supplements if you’re average daily calcium intake is a bit low. So let’s have a look at how we can prepare and eat egg shells.
How to Eat Egg Shells?
When eating eggshells, it’s important that they are properly cleaned and free from any bacteria. Luckily it’s not all that complicated or time consuming to prepare egg shells for consumption.
- Boil (organic) egg shells for around 5 minutes to properly clean the shells and remove bacteria. Important: Don’t remove the membrane as this part of the shell is nutrient rich.
- Let the shells dry for a bit.
- Bake the dry egg shells in the oven for around 10 minutes at 180 degrees to further wipe out any bacteria. Note: You can skip this step if you’re confident that the shells have been cleaned enough after boiling. The oven will make the shells crunchier though, which makes the grinding easier.
- Grind the shells in a coffee grinder until you have a nice powder substance.
- You can then store the powder in a container and use it when you want to!
You can also choose to skip the coffee grinder and throw the shells straight in the blender, especially if you have a good quality blender. But because I sometime consume the powder in other ways too, I prefer to use my coffee grinder and store the powder for later use.
What to Do With Powdered Egg Shells?
So once you’ve cleaned and crushed egg shells into a powder substance, what do you then do with them?
I personally add egg shell powder to my smoothies as it’s the easiest way to get my calcium in. On average it’s just one tablespoon per week which is enough for me. Especially considering the fact that egg shells are 95% calcium.
But there are other ways to consume powdered egg shells. You can easily spread a little bit of powder over a pizza and you won’t even notice it.
You can also simply add a small tablespoon to a glass of water or orange juice and drink it for a quick and easy calcium fix.
Or you can add some to your pasta as it won’t affect the flavor of your dish at all.
Taking dietary supplements are one way of increasing your calcium intake, but I do recommend correcting any calcium deficiency you may have with diet changes. Lots of foods contain calcium, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. If you don’t eat dairy foods, you can also find a good amount of calcium in greens such as broccoli, kale and cabbage. Bread also contains calcium.
If you’re currently taking calcium supplements then egg shells are also worth considering as a replacement of these supplements. I used to take calcium supplements but over time I have tried to increase my calcium intake by making small changes to my diet, including blending egg shells.
If you are indeed low on calcium and prefer to take calcium supplements, make sure you buy them from a reputable brand and read the reviews. There are lots of different types of calcium supplements available which can be quite confusing.
Other Benefits of Egg Shells
If you prefer not to eat egg shells or if you have too many of them, here are some more tips to put your egg shells to good use.
Use for Compost
If you produce compost at home, the calcium and minerals in egg shells can actually make compost a lot richer. Better than throwing them away!
Dry Skin Treatment
The membrane in egg shells is believed to be treating dry skin very well. Simply place the membrane on the skin where it feels dry and leave it there until the membrane dries out. It’s also supposed to help with healing small skin cuts.
Feed Them to Chickens
Chickens need calcium too so you can certainly feed them egg shells to top up their calcium intake. So if you keep chickens at home, consider feeding them some egg shells. Make sure they’re crunched properly before feeding.
Natural Pest Control in Your Garden
Not sure if this is an old wives’ tale, but apparently egg shells are not very popular with garden pests. Sprinkle egg shells around plants and keep these unwelcome visitors away from your plants.
Grow Healthier Tomatoes
Add a handful of crushed egg shells to the soil before planting tomato plants and let it slowly dissolve. This will add much needed calcium to the soil which will benefit your plants.
Make Your Coffee Taste Sweeter
Believe it or not, but egg shells can actually make your coffee taste a lot sweeter. If you add crushed egg shells to your ground coffee before brewing, then this will reduce the bitterness of the coffee. Not for everyone but worth a try!
Feed Them to Birds
Crunched and baked egg shells can be eaten by birds too as a calcium supplement. Simple place a small amount in a bird feeder and they will appreciate it. Just make sure the shells are crunched to very tiny little pieces.
The key to eating egg shells and other calcium rich foods is moderation. Egg shells are extremely high in calcium so it’s definitely not recommended to start eating egg shells as if your life depends on it because that obviously won’t do you any good. Too much calcium can actually be harmful to your body.
I love adding small doses of crushed egg shells to my smoothies instead of taking calcium supplements. Egg shells provide natural calcium so for me to re-use egg shells that I would otherwise throw in the bin is a logical choice.
However, if your average daily calcium intake is already sufficient, there really is not much need to add crushed or powdered egg shells to your diet.