Eggs are a fixture of the American breakfast plate. These days, though, it’s common for those eggs to come without the yolk. For many, this is a way to avoid extra cholesterol. But, if you ditch the yolk, you may miss out on lots of nutrients. It makes the choice tough between egg whites vs egg yolks. Not to worry, you can learn more about the health benefits of each below to inform your egg choices.
The Almighty Egg
Eggs are a staple of restaurants and kitchens alike. They bind cakes at bakeries. Their yolk emulsifies to build salad dressings. Eggs thicken custards and glaze cookies. They even clarify soups and broths. For many chefs, eggs are indispensable.1
Health Benefits Of Eating Eggs
In addition to their role in the kitchen, eggs are also packed with a variety of nutrients that are vital to human health. They contain all nine essential amino acids. These amino acids aren’t produced by your body and must be absorbed through the food you consume.2
Eggs also assist with supporting a variety of physical functions, such as:
- The production of lutein and zeaxanthin, which is essential to eye health3
- Heart health and function4,5
- Cell health and development6
These are just a few of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) essential nutrients that a single large egg contains:
- Protein: 12% RDA
- Vitamin D: 6% RDA
- Riboflavin: 15% RDA
- Vitamin B12: 20% RDA
- Biotin: 35% RDA7
Given all the incredible nutrients and vitamins offered up in such a tiny package, it’s no wonder that many people dub the egg a “superfood.”8 Few other foods offer the same level of health benefits in such a tiny package.
Egg Whites – Protein Power Food
Egg whites contain more than half of the protein found in eggs, with only a fraction of the calories. This makes them a great option for anyone looking to boost their protein intake while limiting calories.9,10
Egg whites contain no saturated fat or cholesterol. That makes egg whites a good option for those watching their waistlines and cholesterol levels.11
Egg Yolks – Loaded With Nutrients
Consider including the egg yolk in your next scramble if you want the complete package of protein and nutrients.
That’s because the egg yolk contains a majority of the beneficial vitamins and nutrients, such as:
- Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
Some eggs even contain omega-3 fatty acids, which support heart health.13 The chickens that produce these eggs are fed flax seeds which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Check the labels for these omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating the whole egg, yolk and all, is one of the cheapest and healthiest ways for your body to receive a tremendous amount of nutrients and vitamins. Plus, the fat in the yolk is what makes eggs taste so great.14
That extra fat doesn’t necessarily lead to weight gain either. In fact, one study found that people who ate eggs instead of bagels for breakfast experienced enhanced weight loss.15
The Battle Over Cholesterol
Concern about cholesterol levels is the main reason that some people choose to forgo egg yolks. That’s because a yolk contains about half of the recommended daily amount of dietary cholesterol.16 Whereas the raw egg white contains no dietary cholesterol.17
However, dietary cholesterol is a natural substance produced by your body and absorbed through the food you eat. Dietary cholesterol does not automatically raise blood cholesterol levels. Your body compensates for these levels of dietary cholesterol by producing less cholesterol. That’s why many people do not see an increase in cholesterol levels after eating foods like eggs.18
Additionally, there is no strong evidence to support a connection between chronic heart disease and egg intake. Only about 30% of people who consume eggs even have a noticeable amount of cholesterol in their system.19 And, those people also see a rise in their healthy cholesterol levels, too.20
Research suggests that saturated fat increases cholesterol levels far more than dietary cholesterol.21
Note: Consult with your doctor if you have concerns about high cholesterol to determine whether or not to consume egg yolks.
An Egg For Everybody
Eggs, with or without yolks, have nutritional value that’s important for the body. It all boils down to what you need in your diet. If you are looking for an extra boost of energy for exercise or weight loss without adding calories, then the egg white might be the way to go.
For those in need of an all-around boost in essential vitamins and minerals, including the yolk might be the best option.
You don’t need to choose a side and stick to it, either. Mix it up throughout the week to enjoy the best of both worlds. No matter which way you crack it, your eggs are bound to be delicious and nutritious. It’s all about finding the balance that works for you. If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to your health care provider.
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