What came first, the chicken or the egg? My vote is the egg, especially since this post is all about them. The latest and greatest debate lately has been: What is better for you, the egg white or egg yolk?
Eggs are a great source of a complete high-quality protein with few calories. One whole egg has ~5.5 grams of protein in only ~68 calories. Eggs contain choline, which is important, especially since our bodies can not produce enough of it. Without enough choline, you can also become deficient in another essential nutrient, folic acid.
Let’s take a closer look at each.
Egg whites are a low-calorie, fat-free food. They contain the bulk of the egg’s protein. The egg white contains about 4 grams of protein, 55 mg of sodium and only 17 calories. A single egg white also offers 1.3 micrograms of folate, 6.6 mcg of selenium, 2.3 mg of calcium, 3.6 mg of magnesium, and 4.9 mg of phosphorus and 53.8 mg of potassium.
It is true, egg yolks carry the cholesterol, the fat and saturated fat of the egg. However, what is often overlooked are the many nutrients that come with that, such as the fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids, and other nutrients. One egg yolk has around 55 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, 210 mg of cholesterol, 8 mg of sodium, and 2.7 grams of protein.
The table below by the USDA compares the nutrients of the egg white versus the egg yolk, along with a comparison of the percentage of total nutrition found in the yolk and white.
Nutrients: Egg Yolks Versus Egg Whites
Nutrient White Yolk % Total in White % Total in Yolk Protein 3.6 g 2.7g 57% 43% Fat 0.05g 4.5g 1% 99% Calcium 2.3 mg 21.9 mg 9.5% 90.5% Magnesium 3.6 mg 0.85 mg 80.8% 19.2% Iron 0.03 mg 0.4 mg 6.2% 93.8% Phosphorus 5 mg 66.3 mg 7% 93% Potassium 53.8 mg 18.5 mg 74.4% 25.6% Sodium 54.8 mg 8.2 mg 87% 13% Zinc 0.01 mg 0.4 mg 0.2% 99.8% Copper 0.008 mg 0.013 mg 38% 62% Manganese 0.004 mg 0.009 mg 30.8% 69.2% Selenium 6.6 mcg 9.5 mcg 41% 59% Thiamin 0.01 mg 0.03 mg 3.2% 96.8% Riboflavin 0.145 mg 0.09 mg 61.7% 48.3% Niacin 0.035 mg 0.004 mg 89.7% 9.3% Pantothenic acid. 0.63 mg 0.51 mg 11% 89% B6 0.002 mg 0.059 mg 3.3% 96.7% Folate 1.3 mcg 24.8 mcg 5% 95% B12 0.03 mcg 0.331 mcg 8.3% 91.7% Vitamin A 0 IU 245 IU 0% 100% Vitamin E 0 mg 0.684 mg 0% 100% Vitamin D 0 IU 18.3 IU 0% 100% Vitamin K 0 IU 0.119 IU 0% 100% DHA and AA 0 94 mg 0% 100% Carotenoids 0 mcg 21 mcg 0% 100%
As you can see, the egg yolk has more actual nutrients, but in my opinion, the entire egg gives the most complete nutrition.
It is interesting that over the years there have been different recommendations regarding the best part of the egg. New research shows that, contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it.
Research suggests that it is a saturated fat that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol. However, if you suffer from coronary artery disease or have any heart health issues like high cholesterol, the recommendation is still to limit your dietary intake of cholesterol. Usually, high-fat and high-saturated fat foods will also be higher in cholesterol.
Still have questions? Explore “the great egg debate” on this episode of A Healthier Michigan Podcast, where host Chuck Gaidica and I discuss potential risks of an egg-inclusive diet.
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