Eggs are a very misunderstood food, one day they are being praised for their protein and vitamin content, or being demonized as a cause for high cholesterol and strokes another day. There are so many conflicting professional opinions it’s not easy to understand the truth.
A long, long time ago, in a research lab far away, saturated fat was thought to be the main cause of heart disease and high cholesterol. And as a source of saturated fats, egg yolks were considered unhealthy and it was advised to throw them out as the whites contained no fat. But this false claim done by flawed studies has been proven wrong time and time again over the past few decades.
Once it seemed that eating the entire egg was coming back, cholesterol was the new main villain causing conflict… So what are the facts? Should we eat the yolk? Or should we stick to just egg white omelettes? All these questions and more will be answered in this article!
What Is In An Egg Yolk?
Whenever a new study comes out and is against egg yolks, it mainly talks about its saturated fat and cholesterol levels. At 1.5 g of saturated fat per large egg yolk, this number is actually quite low compared to most other meat products. In the same 50 g serving size, chicken has around 2 g, beef has 3 g, pork has 2.5 g, and it is tied with most types of fish.
But even then, saturated fats have been shown to be an important part of a healthy diet, as well as not raising cholesterol at all. Ranging from increasing liver health, increasing immunity and raising the important hormone testosterone, saturated fats when consumed from natural sources are an important part of any healthy diet. While fat is high in calories (9 per gram), it is possible to lose weight on a high fat diet when your calories in and calories out are counted. So as long as you are watching how many calories you are eating, there are very few reasons to worry about your saturated fat consumption.
The Dangers of High Cholesterol
Most of us know high cholesterol can lead to many health issues including extreme chest pain (also known as angina), an increased risk of heart disease/heart attack/stroke and possible death. Known as atherosclerosis, the accumulation of cholesterol in arteries reduces blood flow and is what can cause a life threatening blood clot.
There are two types of cholesterol known as Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL, the bad cholesterol) and High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL, the good cholesterol). LDL is a waxy type of fat that builds up in your arteries while HDL brings excess cholesterol in the blood to the liver where it is processed and expelled. Knowing that, most think that because one large egg yolk contains about 180 mg of cholesterol (or 60% of your daily recommended intake), it will automatically contribute to your LDL. But of course, this claim is false, as dietary cholesterol is very different from the cholesterol in our bodies.
Dietary cholesterol has very little correlation to blood cholesterol levels and an increased consumption did not lead to atherosclerosis in healthy individuals. In fact, research has shown that eating egg yolks on a consistent basis can actually increase HDL or the good cholesterol.
Why Should You Eat The Yolk?
Now that the main reasons for not eating egg yolks have been effectively debunked, you might be asking, “why should I eat egg yolks?” For many different reasons! Besides containing 3 g of protein (about half of the whole egg), no carbs, and 1-2 g of omega-3 fatty acids, an egg yolk contains many important vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin A, B (in the form of B6, B12, riboflavin, folate and choline), D, and K can all be found in the egg yolk, but not the white. Other healthy nutrients include a good amount of calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc and selenium, all necessary for a healthy and properly functioning body. Something most probably don’t know is that egg yolks can help your eyesight, with their specific forms of vitamin A. These carotenoids known as lutein and zeaxanthin work together to help protect your eyes and keep your vision sharp. So as you can see, egg yolks are not only fine for your body, they are one of the more nutrient dense animal products we can consume!
Take Home Message
Like most things we believed half a century ago, eggs can be finally shifted from the unhealthy, artery clogging category of foods to the diet friendly, vegetarian friendly, nutrient dense superfood category. Not only is it healthier to eat the entire egg, it’s also more cost effective. When the yolks are thrown out it will take twice as many egg whites to get the same amount of protein. But anybody who still isn’t convinced about egg yolks, it is possible to buy cartons of egg whites, which will save you money by skipping the yolk all together (but I don’t see why after reading this article).
It’s important to keep in mind that different cooking methods can change the amount of nutrients and healthiness of your eggs. Boiling and poaching are considered the healthiest forms as they require no oil, while anything in a pan will contain more calories even with only a non-stick spray. Raw eggs are thought to be the healthiest as no nutrients are diminished through heat exposure, but of course with risk of contamination/illness it isn’t recommended and should stay in boxing movies. With that being said, I have taught you all you need to know about eggs and their health benefits. Thank you for reading and I hope you learned something useful!