Eggs can rightly be labeled as a superfood, but the question in many people's minds is "Which part of the egg is the 'super' part?" Should you avoid the egg yolk and eat the egg white only, or is it okay to eat the whole egg? And which one is healthier – the egg white or the egg yolk? Let's dig a little deeper to discover the health benefits of each one, as well as why this even became a controversy in the first place.
Eggs: The "Bad Boys" of Nutrition
If you've followed nutritional trends for any length of time, you've probably noticed how eggs have fallen in and out of favor with the health community for years now. First, they're good for you, then they're not, and then they're okay for you to eat again. What's the deal? The long and short of it is that eggs, being an animal product, contain a generous amount of cholesterol, which the American Heart Association says we should limit in our daily diet to the tune of no more than 300mg per day. One large egg contains about 200mg of cholesterol, which means that if you consume just one egg a day, you've already moved the needle on your daily cholesterol intake
So let's take a look at each part of the
Egg whites have been lauded for being a fat-free, low-calorie food, and they contain the majority of the egg's protein. With one large egg white producing about seven grams of protein, 17 calories and 55mg of sodium, it's easy to see why many bodybuilders choose egg whites to supplement their protein intake. In addition, egg whites have become a popular option for people who are on cholesterol-restricted diets. Egg whites also contain other important nutrients such as selenium, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, riboflavin, and potassium.
Egg yolks carry all of the egg's fat, saturated fat and cholesterol content. While this might sound intimidating to many of us who have been told to be wary of these macronutrients, you have to remember that they are just that – macronutrients, which means that they do offer important benefits to the body via fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. Egg yolks are also rich in calcium, Vitamin B12, zinc (which is only 0.01% present in the whites), thiamin, iron, and folate.
Egg Whites vs. Egg Yolks: Which One is Better for You?
The answer – perhaps not surprisingly – is both. Eating the whole egg is the best way to go to derive the greatest health benefits from this classic superfood. As new research continues to be published, more evidence is emerging that eating a moderate amount of eggs – e.g., two per day – does not have any negative impact on a person's blood cholesterol levels. In fact, in some cases, it has actually been shown to improve lipid profiles.
If you've had any confusion about which part of the egg to eat, it's safe to say that you can't lose either way, so why not eat the whole egg? Of course, it's always a good idea to consult with your doctor regarding your cholesterol and saturated fat intake, as everyone's risk factors for heart conditions will vary. Just remember that, as with most things in life, moderation is always the key.