Though shaped like a ‘0’, the egg is 100% beneficial. This powerhouse of protein has been consumed by humans for thousands of years and most people feel their breakfast to be incomplete without eggs-either poached, scrambled, boiled, fried or consumed as an omelettes. There is one question that keeps nagging in our minds each time we eat our eggs-Which is better for health, egg whites or egg yolks?
Eggs for Health
Eggs are replete with proteins and one medium egg contains around 70 calories with 7 g of protein and 5 g of fat. A reputed journal study even shows that children who eat one egg daily for six months along with a diet that contains reduced-sugar foods can help them grow taller and prevent stunting. Eggs contain choline (an important nutrient mainly because our body cannot produce choline), a nutrient without which we become deficient in folic acid too.
The yellow portion of the egg or the egg yolk is the most-debated part for its health and calorie values by people worldwide. There is no denying that the egg yolks contain cholesterol, fat and saturated fat but what we ignore is the rich nutrients too, such as the fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and other major nutrients, that are present within it. The egg yolk makes up about 34% of the liquid weight of the egg and contains almost all the fat in the egg and around 50% protein content of the egg. Precisely, one egg yolk contains around 55 calories, 4.5 g of total fat, 210 mg of cholesterol and 2.7 g of protein.
Nutrient-wise, the egg yolk is anytime high in all nutrients such as vitamins (B6 and B12), folic acid, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, zinc and thiamin except for niacin and riboflavin. Vitamin A, D, E and K are present only in this golden portion of the egg. Vitamin D or the sunshine vitamin is rarely present naturally in foods and egg yolks are one valuable source of this vitamin.
With so much in line inside one egg yolk, what about the nutrient contents of double-yolked eggs? Do they contain twice the quantity of the nutrients? Double-yolked eggs are generally produced by younger chickens whose production cycles are not completely synchronized. Sometimes, genetics too might decide the fate of the yolk as certain hens produce only double-yolked eggs throughout their life cycle. Though rare, it is not weird for a chicken to produce an egg with no yolk at all.
Egg White or Albumen
Albumen contains the remaining portion of the egg’s liquid (66%) and is comparatively a greater source of egg protein (more than 50% of the total protein content), niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and sodium compared to the egg yolk. One egg white contains only 17 calories with 4 g of protein and 55 mg of sodium. That, the egg white contains 0% fat is worth noting here.
Egg White Vs Egg
Whole eggs top all other protein foods and for this reason, have been classified under the ‘protein’ foods group alongside meat. The opinion on the best portion of the egg has varied greatly over the years with different suggestions and recommendations pouring in from physicians, nutritionists and dietitians worldwide. Latest studies do show that controlled consumption of egg does not impact cholesterol levels negatively.
Coming to our comparison, although egg whites might contain a greater protein portion, the whole egg contains even greater protein than consuming the whites alone. While egg whites might contain 7% of protein, the whole egg contains 10% of protein. Also, vitamin D is present only in the egg yolk and this is of immense value as this vitamin is rarely present in foods naturally (Already mentioned, but worth noting again!).
Coming to the heart of the issue-cholesterol content of the egg yolk. Not all cholesterol is bad for health and you might all be familiar with the two types of cholesterol, the good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol present in different foods. Reduce your LDL levels that is popular to increase your chances of heart attack and increase your HDL levels to reduce your chances of heart attack considerably. The cholesterol in egg yolks are the good ones (HDL) and it is extremely beneficial to your body to eat the egg yolk as well. Just because there is a small percentage of fat in the yolk doesn’t mean that you completely ignore taking the yellow portion of the egg. Instead, reduce or cut out fat from other unhealthy food sources, do plenty of exercise and continue consuming your egg yolks for maximal health benefits and balance.
Even people on a weight-loss diet can surely continue taking their whole eggs. The restriction might come in the quantity of eggs they can eat and it is fully up to a registered dietitian nutritionist to guide the individual taking up the weight-loss diet on the quantity of eggs allowed for consumption. Get in touch with dietitians/nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com to help you in this endeavor and don’t completely ignore the egg yolks eating only the whites until you are guided by a professional.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.