The Battle of the Egg: To Yolk or Not to Yolk

The egg debate of egg white vs. egg yolk has been going on for years. Some people believe that eating only the egg white is the best way to go. Their reason being that by removing the yolk, you cut down fat, calories, and cholesterol. But others think that by eliminating the yolk you also miss out on all the nutrients. So, it’s time to put the egg to rest and answer the ultimate eggy question, to yolk or not to yolk?

Calories and Nutritional Value

Eggs are packed full of high-quality protein yet are low in calories making them an all-round superfood and a great option as part of a healthy diet.  

Here is the nutritional value of a single large boiled egg according to 

  • Calories: 77

  • Carbs: 0.6 grams

  • Total fat: 5.3 grams

  • Saturated fat: 1.6 grams

  • Monounsaturated fat: 2.0 grams

  • Cholesterol: 212 mg

  • Protein: 6.3 grams

  • Vitamin A: 6% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 15% of the RDA

  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): 9% of the RDA

  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 7% of the RDA

  • Phosphorus: 86 mg, or 9% of the RDA

  • Selenium: 15.4 mcg, or 22% of the RDA

As you can see, eggs contain some level of saturated, monounsaturated fat, and cholesterol, all located in the yolk. But what is the big deal? In the 1990s and 2000s, research emerged claiming that consuming too much cholesterol put you at higher risk of heart disease. Additional research claimed that saturated fat also increased heart disease risk. 

This didn’t bode well for the egg, as it contains more both saturated fat and cholesterol. As a result, dieticians and athletes alike began to ditch the yolk, and eat pure egg whites instead (which is basically just water and protein).  

Egg Whites

Egg whites could be considered the ultimate diet food, as it’s literally just pure protein which helps athletes get the “gains” in the gym, while avoiding all the fat and calories of the egg yolk. An average egg white contains 3.6g of protein and 0.05g of fat, a range of minerals, and only 17 calories. Following the trend, companies have started selling cartons of pure egg white that can be made into all sorts of dishes.  

Egg Yolks

So, is that it for the yolk? Well, if you like dipping your toast in a soft-boiled egg for breakfast, there is ‘eggcellent’ news! Although the yolk contains cholesterol and fat, it also contains a plethora of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, E, D and K, Carotenoids, folate and B 12. 

The fat-soluble vitamins and fatty acids in egg yolk show that some levels of fat can actually be very healthy. Also, although the whites contain more protein than yolks, they only contain 57% of the total protein in the egg. This means that the yolks also contain a large amount of the egg’s protein (43%). 

What about cholesterol? 

The research claiming food containing cholesterol led to heart disease has actually been de-bunked and the main culprits are actually saturated and trans fats. This is fantastic news for the egg, as the U.S. Dietary Guidelines have removed their 300mg daily limit of cholesterol. Egg yolks contain around 200mg of cholesterol and 4.5g of fat, but actually very little of that fat is saturated fat. The monounsaturates and polyunsaturated fats found in egg yolks show no increased risk of heart disease. 

The Verdict

Don’t be so fast to ditch the yolk! New research shows that eating whole eggs, yolk and all, not only doesn’t negatively impact blood cholesterol levels but can actually be good for you. Eggs, eaten in moderation, are high in protein, low in calories, and contain many valuable vitamins and minerals. So, enjoy, yolk and all!

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