Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Eggnog Bad For You?

Also Known As: Egg milk punch



Short answer

Traditional eggnog is high in calories, fat, and sugar, with a cup serving up to 400 calories, 20g of fat, and 21.4g of sugars. Enjoying in moderation and opting for alternatives like low-fat or non-dairy versions can mitigate health risks, such as weight gain and increased cholesterol.



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Long answer

Caloric and Fat Content in Traditional Eggnog

When it comes to indulging in traditional eggnog during the holiday season, it's important to understand its caloric and fat content. A cup of homemade eggnog can contain upwards of 200 calories, with store-bought versions potentially containing even more due to added sugars and flavorings. The calorie count largely depends on the preparation method and portion size. Full-fat milk and heavy cream, which are commonly used in eggnog recipes, contribute to the drink's rich flavor and creamy texture but also to its high calorie and fat content.

Fat is another significant factor in eggnog's nutritional profile. A single serving might have around 10 grams of fat, with 5 grams or more of that being saturated fat. Saturated fats are known to increase cholesterol levels, which could contribute to heart disease. However, it's also worth noting that recent research has begun to reassess the role of saturated fats in heart health, suggesting that the relationship may be more complex than previously thought.

For those monitoring their intake for weight management or health reasons, it's essential to keep the following averages in mind (per one cup serving of homemade eggnog):

  • Calories: Approximately 200-400 calories
  • Total Fat: 10-20 grams
  • Saturated Fat: 5-10 grams
  • Cholesterol: 140-150 milligrams

It's clear that eggnog can be quite dense in calories and fats. However, enjoying it in moderation can mitigate negative health impacts. For those with dietary restrictions or health conditions such as high cholesterol, lower-calorie and lower-fat versions might be a better option. Many recipes use skim milk, egg substitutes, or plant-based milks to reduce the fat content significantly.

The key takeaway here is to be conscious of portion sizes and the frequency of consumption. While a small serving of eggnog can fit into a balanced diet, larger servings or daily indulgence might contribute to excessive caloric and fat intake over time. As always, balance and moderation are your best strategies for enjoying the holiday season while maintaining health and wellness.

References to nourishment studies and nutritional guidelines can provide a broader context for these figures, illustrating how an individual serving of eggnog fits into daily dietary recommendations:

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting calories from added sugars and saturated fats, which can be particularly high in traditional eggnog recipes.
  • Research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition highlights the importance of considering both caloric and fat content in beverages as part of overall energy balance.

Sugar Overload: Sweeteners in Eggnog

The rich, creamy taste of eggnog is a holiday favorite, but this festive drink often contains a considerable amount of sweeteners, which can contribute to a sugar overload. Before indulging in a cup of eggnog, it’s essential to understand the types of sweeteners used and their potential impacts on your health.

Traditional eggnog recipes include sugar in various forms. The most commonly used sweeteners are granulated white sugar, brown sugar, and even corn syrup. These ingredients enhance the flavor but also contribute to the overall calorie content and affect blood sugar levels.

Regarding nutritional content, let's break down the typical sugar content found in a single cup of homemade or commercially-prepared eggnog:

  • Granulated White Sugar: One cup of eggnog can contain up to 20 grams of added white sugar, which is roughly equivalent to 5 teaspoons.
  • Brown Sugar: While brown sugar may impart a deeper flavor profile, it similarly increases the sugar content by up to 18 grams per cup.
  • Corn Syrup: Some recipes or brands may use high-fructose corn syrup, contributing to a high glycemic index and potentially impacting metabolic health.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest limiting added sugars to less than 10% of daily caloric intake, which for many adults is equivalent to about 50 grams of sugar per day based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Considering a single serving of eggnog can approach almost half of this limit, it's worth being mindful of your consumption.

Excessive intake of added sugars, like those found in many eggnog varieties, has been associated with health issues such as weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay, according to research from the American Heart Association and other health organizations.

For those looking to enjoy eggnog without the sugar overload, there are alternatives to consider:

  • Sugar-free alternatives: Some commercial brands offer low-sugar or sugar-free versions of eggnog, substituting traditional sugar with artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols.
  • Recipe modifications: When making eggnog at home, you can control the amount of sugar and even replace it with healthier options like honey, maple syrup, or date paste, recognizing that these still contribute to overall sugar intake.
  • Portion control: Simply reducing the serving size can help manage sugar consumption while still enjoying the taste of eggnog.

It is also valuable to consider the cumulative effect of holiday sweets. In a season where cookies, pies, and other sugary delights are commonplace, eggnog's sweet contribution can quickly add up.

Ultimately, while eggnog does bring joy to many holiday tables, being aware of its sweeteners and their potential health impacts can help you make informed decisions that align with your dietary goals and preferences.

Alcohol in Eggnog: Risks and Effects on Health

Eggnog is a classic holiday beverage often enjoyed with a dash or two of alcohol for an extra festive kick. While the merriment may be temporary, the health effects of alcohol in eggnog can be longer lasting and deserve attention. Here's what you should consider before indulging in this seasonal treat:

Calorie Content and Weight Gain:

Adding alcohol to eggnog increases the calorie content of the drink. Eggnog itself is already quite rich, and alcohol adds more calories that can lead to weight gain, especially when consumed in excess during the holiday season.

Alcohol's Impact on the Body:

  • Impaired Judgment and Coordination: Alcohol in eggnog can reduce your inhibitions, impair judgment, and slow reaction time, making activities like driving particularly dangerous.
  • Interference with Medications: Alcohol can interact negatively with certain medications, including over-the-counter drugs for colds and allergies that might be used more frequently during the winter months.
  • Dehydration: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it can lead to dehydration. This effect can be intensified if you're also consuming salty holiday foods.

Long-Term Health Risks:

Regular consumption of alcohol, even in social beverages like eggnog, is linked to several long-term health risks, including:

  • Increased risk of chronic diseases such as liver disease, certain cancers, and heart disease.
  • Dependency and addiction, which can develop with frequent use over time.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, which can be exacerbated by alcohol.

Interactions with Nutrients:

Alcohol can impact the way your body absorbs and utilizes nutrients, often leading to a reduction in the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals. When mixed with a nutrient-dense drink like eggnog, which is high in fat and sugar, the overall nutritional balance of your diet can be affected.

Impact on Sleep:

Though alcohol might initially help you feel drowsy, it actually decreases the quality of sleep, leading to less restorative rest and increased fatigue. Given that the holiday season can already disrupt regular sleep patterns, adding alcohol to the mix might compound these effects.

Serving Size Awareness:

It's easy to underestimate the amount of alcohol you're consuming when it's mixed into a flavorful drink like eggnog. This can lead to unintentional overconsumption, resulting in the harmful effects listed above. Being mindful of serving sizes and moderating intake is crucial.

While enjoying a cup of spiked eggnog is a holiday tradition for many, it's important to consider the risks and effects it can have on your health, both immediately and in the long term. Moderation is key, and for some individuals, opting for a non-alcoholic version may be a healthier choice.

Presence of Allergens and Food Sensitivities

When discussing whether eggnog is bad for those with allergens and food sensitivities, it's imperative to dissect the typical components of this festive beverage. Traditional eggnog is made with milk, cream, sugar, whipped eggs, and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. Some of the key allergens present in eggnog include dairy and eggs, both of which are common sources of food allergies.

For individuals with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies, the high dairy content in eggnog can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, lactose intolerance affects approximately 68 percent of the world's population to some degree. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, or nausea, occurring 30 minutes to 2 hours after consumption.

Moreover, eggs are one of the eight major food allergens that must be declared on food labels under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology notes that egg allergies are most prevalent in children, with most outgrowing the allergy by the age of 16. Symptoms of an egg allergy can range from mild rashes, hives, or nasal congestion to more severe reactions such as anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.

It's also worth mentioning that individuals with sensitivities to additives or flavoring agents should be cautious. Some store-bought eggnog brands may include artificial flavors, colors, or additives, which can complicate food sensitivities or allergies. Always read the ingredient label if you're prone to adverse reactions to food additives.

For people with allergies or food sensitivities, the following alternatives may be considered:

  • Dairy-Free Eggnog: Plant-based milks such as almond, soy, or coconut can be used as a substitute for milk and cream.
  • Egg-Free Eggnog: There are egg replacers available or recipes that simply omit eggs altogether, reducing the risk of an allergic reaction.
  • Low-Sugar Eggnog: For those sensitive to sugar or those watching their sugar intake, reducing the sugar content or using alternative sweeteners is a viable option.

Regardless of these alternatives, individuals should consult with a healthcare provider or a dietitian to understand personal allergies and food sensitivities, ensuring a safe holiday season.

In conclusion, while eggnog is a cherished holiday tradition for many, it's important for those with allergies or food sensitivities to be aware of the potential risks associated with its ingredients. Substitutes and careful reading of labels can help in making an informed decision about consuming eggnog.

Potential Benefits: Nutrients in Eggnog

Eggnog is a traditional holiday beverage that contains a variety of nutrients, which can offer certain health benefits when consumed in moderation. This creamy drink is typically made from milk, cream, sugar, whipped eggs, and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. When examining the potential benefits, it's important to consider the nutritional content per serving that eggnog can provide:

  • Protein: The milk and eggs in eggnog are excellent sources of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, as well as supporting immune function.
  • Calcium: As a dairy-based beverage, eggnog is a good source of calcium, which is vital for maintaining strong bones and teeth, and plays a role in blood clotting and muscle contraction.
  • Vitamin D: Many store-bought versions of eggnog are fortified with vitamin D, which works in tandem with calcium to support bone health and has been linked to other health benefits such as improved immune function.
  • Phosphorus: This mineral, found in eggnog, aids in the formation of bones and teeth, and is important for the body's utilization of carbohydrates and fats as well as the synthesis of protein for the repair and growth of cells.
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Milk is a natural source of riboflavin, which is present in eggnog and helps with energy metabolism.
  • Vitamin A: Eggs provide vitamin A, which is important for vision health, immune function, and cell growth. Vitamin A is also present in higher-fat dairy products used in eggnog.

It’s also worth noting that eggnog can sometimes include ingredients such as cinnamon and nutmeg, which have their own health benefits. For example:

  • Cinnamon: Has been linked to anti-inflammatory properties and may help to lower blood sugar levels.
  • Nutmeg: Containing compounds that may have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.

However, keep in mind that the nutrient profile of eggnog can vary greatly based on the specific recipe or brand. Homemade versions can be tailored to dietary needs by controlling the type and amount of sweetener, using low-fat dairy options, or adding fewer eggs. Commercially prepared eggnogs may differ in their nutrient content due to the addition of preservatives, flavorings, or additional fortification.

Given these variable factors, while eggnog contains beneficial nutrients, the overall impact on health will depend on the entire nutritional context and the quantity in which it is consumed. Moderation is key, and those with dietary restrictions or health conditions should consider these factors when including eggnog as part of their diet.

For a more comprehensive assessment, let’s look at a typical nutrient breakdown per one cup (about 240ml) of commercial eggnog:

Nutrient Amount % Daily Value (DV)
Calories 224 kcal -
Protein 9.7 g 19%
Total Fat 11.5 g 15%
Saturated Fat 6.6 g 33%
Cholesterol 150 mg 50%
Carbohydrates 20.4 g 7%
Sugars 21.4 g -
Calcium 328 mg 25%
Vitamin D 2.5 µg 12%
Phosphorus 250 mg 20%
Vitamin A 395 IU 7%
Riboflavin 0.5 mg 38%

This table demonstrates that eggnog can be part of a nutritious diet, especially when considering serving size and making choices consistent with one's overall dietary goals. As with any food or drink, the key to incorporating eggnog into a healthy diet is balance and moderation.

Balancing Enjoyment and Health During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time for indulgence, and eggnog is a classic festive treat. While it's important to enjoy the traditions and flavors of the season, maintaining a balance between enjoyment and health is crucial. Eggnog, with its creamy texture and rich flavor, is often high in calories, fat, and sugar, which can pose challenges for those monitoring their diet for health or weight concerns. Let's explore ways to savor eggnog while keeping your health in mind.

Firstly, it's helpful to understand what a standard serving of eggnog contains. Typically, one cup of store-bought eggnog can have:

  • Approximately 180-220 calories
  • 9-12 grams of fat (of which 5-8 grams may be saturated)
  • 20 grams or more of sugar

Given these figures, moderation becomes a key strategy. If you're watching your caloric intake or managing conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol, consider the following tips:

  • Savor Small Amounts: Limit yourself to a small glass of eggnog instead of a full cup. This allows you to taste the holiday spirit without overconsuming calories and sugar.
  • Homemade Alternatives: Making eggnog at home can be a fun holiday activity that also allows you to control the ingredients. Use lower-fat milk options, reduce the amount of sugar, or substitute with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.
  • Enjoy it mindfully: When you do decide to have eggnog, take your time to really enjoy it. Drink slowly, savor each sip, and fully engage in the experience rather than drinking it absent-mindedly.

Additionally, for those with dietary restrictions, there are various versions of eggnog available, including:

  • Non-dairy eggnogs made with almond, soy, or coconut milk
  • Light or reduced-fat eggnogs
  • Sugar-free or no added sugar variants

When choosing an alternative, be sure to read the nutritional information as some products may compensate for flavor with additional sugar or additives. It's also worth noting that some non-dairy alternatives may be lower in calories and fat but could still have a significant amount of added sugars. Consulting with a nutritionist or dietitian can provide personalized advice tailored to your health goals and dietary needs.

Enjoying the holidays doesn't mean you have to completely avoid your favorite festive drinks like eggnog. The key is to find a balance that fits within your overall dietary plan. This might include being more physically active to accommodate the extra holiday calories or being selective about when and how often you indulge. Remember to listen to your body's cues, and enjoy the holidays in a way that feels good and supports your health.

Studies suggest that it's not just what we eat, but how we eat that affects our health. Mindful eating during the holidays, focusing on the joy of the celebration and the company of loved ones, can enhance your overall experience and help prevent overindulgence. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior found that mindful eating strategies could be effective in reducing the risk of overeating and increasing the enjoyment of food.

It's all about finding a personal equilibrium where celebration does not have to equate to excess, and moderation doesn't equate to missing out. This balanced approach allows for a healthier holiday season, filled with joy, without the post-holiday health repercussions.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, vegan eggnog alternatives are available and can be made by using plant-based milks such as almond, soy, or oat milk in place of dairy, and ingredients like tofu, bananas, or commercial vegan egg substitutes to replicate the creamy texture traditionally provided by eggs and cream.

While traditional eggnog is high in sugars, diabetic individuals can still enjoy it by choosing lower-sugar or sugar-free alternatives, making homemade eggnog with sugar substitutes or natural sweeteners, and consuming it in moderation. It's essential to monitor blood sugar levels and consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Traditional eggnog contains saturated fats and cholesterol, which have been associated with increased cholesterol levels. However, moderation, along with choosing lower-fat and cholesterol-free versions, can help mitigate these concerns. Ongoing research continues to explore the complex relationship between saturated fat intake and heart health.

To reduce calories in homemade eggnog, use lower-fat milk options, such as skim or 1%, minimize added sugars or opt for sweeteners like stevia, and consider using fewer eggs. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg can enhance flavor without extra calories, preserving the traditional taste of eggnog.

Ask a question about Eggnog and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • increased blood sugar
  • weight gain
  • dehydration from alcohol
  • impaired judgment
  • potential allergic reactions

Possible long-term side effects

  • increased risk of chronic diseases
  • dental issues
  • dependency and addiction from alcohol
  • reduced nutrient absorption

Ingredients to be aware of

  • high calories
  • saturated fats
  • added sugars
  • high cholesterol
  • alcohol
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • artificial additives


  • provides essential nutrients
  • good source of protein, calcium, and vitamins
  • contains beneficial spices

Healthier alternatives

  • low-fat milk options
  • sugar-free varieties
  • non-dairy eggnog
  • egg substitutes
  • homemade recipes
  • mindful consumption

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Califia Mocha Cold Brew

  • 100% Arabica coffee
  • Dairy-free indulgence
  • Plant-based milk
  • Vegan-friendly
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Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-01-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-01-2023

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