Should you throw away the yolk from your daily dose of eggs?
Are yolks harmful when consumed on a daily basis?
What about the high cholesterol in egg yolks?
I am sure there are many such questions which pop up in the head when you think of egg yolks.
But how much of the facts that you have heard are true and what are the myths?
In this article, we explore the nutrition and facts about egg yolks and bust some myths to make your life easy.
Egg Yolk Nutrition
Egg yolk of a large egg contains about 55 calories.
It contains about 2.7 gms of Protein, 4.5 gms of Fat and 0.6 gm of Carbohydrate.
Animal sources of protein, such as the egg, are a complete source of all the 9 essential amino acids.
Did you know that eggs are one of the few sources of food naturally containing Vitamin D?
Yes, egg yolks are a great source of Vitamin D which is about 41 IU in a large egg yolk which is 7 percent of the RDI. Most of us are deficient in this vital Vitamin and do not get enough of it regularly. It has many vital functions in the body including absorption of calcium for healthy bones and teeth.
Vitamin in yolk :
Vitamin A (245.1 IU) – It is required for healthy eyes, reproduction and immune system support.
Vitamin E (0.44 mg ) – Helps to reduce heart disease and cancer. It acts as an antioxidant.
Vitamin K (0.1 µg ) – Is required for blood clotting, wound healing and bone health.
These are the fat soluble Vitamins in egg yolk which are absorbed quickly as yolk comprises of good quantity of fatty acids.
Egg yolk also contains –
Vitamin B9(folate)(25 µg), B12 (0.33 µg), B6(0.059 mg), Thiamin (0.030mg), Niacin(0.004 mg) and Selenium
Egg yolks are also a good source of essential minerals –
Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Sodium and Zinc.
Egg yolks provide the essential Omega-3 fatty acids that must be included in the diet as the body does not produce them by itself. They may help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia, and arthritis. Hens that are raised in pastures or that are fed with omega-3 enriched feed produce omega-3 rich eggs.
Yolks are an important source of choline with about 126mg per large egg yolk. It is essential for the normal functioning of all cells in your body and is required for the structural development and signalling functions of cell membranes.
A large egg contains 1.3 gms of phospholipids of which most are found in the yolk. It is a type of fat especially crucial to the health of both cell membranes and neurotransmitters. It also helps in regulating cholesterol absorption and inflammation in the body.
Studies show that both Lutein and zeaxanthin form of Carotenoids are found in large quantities in Egg yolks. Consuming these powerful antioxidants can reduce the risk of two common eye disorders of cataract and macular degeneration.
Egg Yolk Cholesterol Myth
You must have been warned against the increase in cholesterol level with the consumption of egg yolks.
Well, guess what? this premise is flawed.
First up cholesterol is not the enemy. It is essential for your body to regulate protein pathways and other cell processes. It also plays important role in interacting with the proteins inside the cell membrane.
Cholesterol helps in bile acid formation aiding to the digestive processes in the body. It also plays a vital role in the creation of neuron connections in the brain.
It is also involved in producing steroid hormones like testosterone, estrogen, cortisol.
It is true that egg yolks are high in cholesterol with two large whole eggs containing about 422 mg of cholesterol.
But, eating cholesterol rich food does not lead to high cholesterol in the body.
Your body produces cholesterol for its usage. When you have a high cholesterol diet the body just curbs its own production.
In fact, eating whole eggs would help you to increase the good cholesterol HDL in the body. There are some studies that indicate an increase in HDL when dietary cholesterol from eggs increases.
Higher HDL cholesterol indicates a lower risk of stroke, heart disease and other health problems.
It should be noted that there are people with some genetic makeup to respond more than others to dietary cholesterol. These people see an increase in both good and bad cholesterol when they consume high cholesterol food like whole eggs.
Egg Yolk Makes You Fat Myth
Egg yolk has high fat content which comes to about 58 percent of its weight.
The Saturated Fat contained in the yolk is about 1.6 gms which is 7 to 11 percent of a 2000 calorie diet daily consumption. This type of fat should be limited in your diet as it has a direct impact on the cholesterol levels in the body.
Yolks also contain 2 gms of Monounsaturated fats and 0.7 gms of polyunsaturated fats. These are the kind of healthy fats that provide health benefits to the body by keeping a check on diabetes and high levels of good cholesterol.
Eating whole eggs from a good source in the correct form such as raw or soft boiled may not lead to weight gain.
In fact, whole eggs keep you full for longer period and keep you away from ingesting more calories. They are ranked high on the satiety scale and are great to include in weight management diets according to research (1, 2).
Moreover, a whole egg contains only 70 calories. But the key here is to cook (if required) your eggs in the correct way. If you add oil or butter to your egg meal then you are invariably adding more fat and calories to it.
How Many Eggs Per Day?
There have been no significant studies to prove a limit on the number of eggs that one should consume per day.
But studies do show that eating whole eggs improve the good cholesterol or HDL in most people with slight to no increase in the bad cholesterol or LDL levels. At the same time, the antioxidant levels in the blood also increase significantly.
However, the studies on the subject of whole eggs have not considered subjects consuming more than 3 whole eggs per day. Hence the detrimental effects of having more than 3-4 eggs a day can not be formulated.
Although, health benefits of having eggs depends on the individual.
Egg yolk vs Egg white
As compared to egg white, egg yolk has more nutrient density.
The protein content of egg white is higher with around 3.6 gms as compared to 2.7 gms in the yolk.
Egg whites are literally fat-free and have lesser calories of about 17 calories.
The fat-soluble Vitamin A, D, E and K have no presence in the egg whites.
Also, the quantity of minerals in egg whites is much lesser as compared to the yolk except Riboflavin.
So you can see that the whites have not much nutrition value with the exception of higher protein content than the egg yolks.
Buy High Quality Eggs
Now you are quite versed with the idea of eating whole eggs rather than just having the egg whites.
But are you really having high quality eggs? or are you been misled to buy the factory farms eggs?
To ensure that you have the best quality nutrition you must look for Pastured Eggs. Theses are the eggs coming from local farms where the hen is left to graze on an open field for the whole day.
You might need to dig deep to find vendors of pasture eggs. If you buy from the supermarket carefully look at the labels of the eggs as some Free-Range or Cage Free eggs might not be coming from farms but from factories instead.
Organic eggs are other good option where the hen is fed with organic feed which is free from pesticides and antibiotics although the nutrition content may not be as high as the Pastured eggs.
You can also choose the option with a fortified omega-3 and DHA if you do not have access to pastured or organic eggs. These are the normal eggs which are added with nutrients to raise their nutritional values.
A good way to test whether your eggs are good and coming from a natural source is to check the colour of the yolk. The highest quality yolks are generally orange in colour and not dull yellow.
Best Way to Eat Egg Yolk
There are many ways of cooking eggs. But depending on the method you adopt you may end up having the most of the nutrition from egg or much reduced value.
The egg yolk must be subjected to less heat as heat damages the fat and vital nutrients in it. Yolks can provide the best nutrition when remaining uncooked. Also heating in presence of oxygen curbs the fat and protein content in the eggs and alleviates the nutrition value.
This gives us the best way to eat egg yolks and it is eating Raw Eggs. Raw eggs ensure that you get the best of nutrition from both egg white and yolk in the natural form.
But I know some people might have an issue with eating the eggs raw owing to the smell and taste.
So the next thing you can do is to have Soft Boiled Eggs. Here the yolk is still little runny and the white is also not that hard. This way you do not have to go for Raw Eggs and can preserve the maximum nutrition of the whole egg.
Another great way to eat eggs is as Poached Eggs. Here the whole egg is cooked in hot water keeping most of the nutrition from the yolk intact. Although this technique might need some practice.
Hard Boiled Eggs is another good way to eat eggs as the yolk is not subjected to heat in the presence of oxygen thus preventing the oxidation of fat and nutrients.
Cooking Sunny Side Up can also be another nutritious way to eat eggs as the heating is done on the underside of the yolk and it is preserved mostly in the runny form.
Food poisoning due to Salmonella bacterial infection is a common health concern when it comes to having eggs. Farms and chicken turd is the carrier of this bacteria and can lead to serious health problems.
To avoid getting food poisoning you should follow strict guidelines when handling eggs:
- Eggs must not have holes and must be washed thoroughly before cooking.
- Wash hands properly when handling raw eggs.
- Storing eggs in the refrigerator away from food which is eaten raw like salads.
- Avoid having eggs that have an odd smell or appear inconsistent.
Egg yolks are the best part of having eggs. You should not look at eggs as just a source of high quality protein from the egg whites and consider having the yolk as well.
Most of the nutrition in the eggs is contained in the yolk. It is rich in Fats, Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants as compared to the egg white.
You should not fall for the myth that high cholesterol or fat in the yolk is bad for your health and try eating yolk in its natural form as much as possible.
The best way to eat eggs is not just to have the white portion but to eat egg as a whole to enjoy it several health benefits.