That is the question.
I often hear that egg yolks are not good for you. If you have ever made any recipes labeled as “healthy” then you may have noticed that they usually call for only egg whites. Why is this?
The egg whites and yolks have different nutrient contents. Let’s take a look:
So you can see above that the yolk contains more healthy fats and nutrients like choline and Vitamin A… but it also contains more saturated fat and cholesterol. The saturated fat is pretty minimal in 1 egg –1.6g- but this could definitely add up if you were making something like an omelet with 5-6 eggs. An egg yolk contains ~180 mg cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends that we consume < 300 mg cholesterol daily for those without CHD and < 200 mg per day for those with CHD.
There was a time when it was believed that eggs had adverse health effects due to the amount of dietary cholesterol they contained. In the 70s, the American Heart Association actually put a limit on the number of eggs that were recommended in the diet per week. Current research contraindicates this:
This study found that daily egg consumption was non-detrimental to lipid levels in hyperlipidemic adults
This study found that consuming 1 egg per day was “unlikely to have substantial overall impact of the risk of CHD or stroke among healthy men and women”
In terms of cholesterol, it’s important to note that many foods high in cholesterol are also higher in saturated fat (bad fats). Eggs, however, have more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat (good fats).
My thoughts on eating egg yolks:
I think that current studies support that daily consumption of 1 egg, including the yolk, is not going to be detrimental to your health. Current studies support that saturated and trans fat consumption will have a greater effect on serum lipid levels.
Having said that, it’s important to note that many studies out there have looked at the consumption of only 1 egg per day. Making a dish with a lot of eggs could quickly turn into something high in calories and fat. For example, if you made an omelet with 6 eggs then that would be 432 calories and 9.6 g saturated fat. If you’re making an omelet, scrambled eggs, or any other dish that uses multiple eggs then I would use 1 whole egg per serving/person and stick with egg whites for the rest.