Egg yolks, where all the fat especially the cholesterol is stored have been the controversial part of the egg for too long. Often weight and cholesterol conscious individuals have opted to skip the yolk to cut down on calories and fat. However, here are some good reasons why you should think twice before skipping the yolk!
Nutrition Facts of Egg Yolks
Egg yolks provide 55 calories, 3 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat! If you chose to only have the egg whites, then it is true that you are saving calories as a whole egg has 71 calories and the egg white only contains 16 calories. You are also skipping the fat as egg whites are basically fat-free!
However, here is what you lose when you skip the yolks! By throwing away the yolks, you actually lose half the protein as egg yolks provide the same amount of protein as the whites (both provide 3 grams of protein). This comes to a surprise to many people as it is often assumed that egg whites are the main source of protein! Also, when you toss away the yolks, you lose all the Iron as well as most vitamins including vitamins A, D, E, B12 & folate!
Eggs yolks are an excellent source of lutein & zeaxanthin, associated with eye health. Yolks are also very rich in choline, which is important for brain and nerve function.
Egg Yolks: The Cholesterol Story
For a long time, we were told that eating foods high in cholesterol like egg yolks can increase blood cholesterol levels. However, research now suggests that saturated and trans fats are actually the main culprits for increasing blood circulating cholesterol not dietary cholesterol. Also, not all cholesterol in eggs is actually absorbed by the body!
From the studies that have shown a link between dietary cholesterol and cardiovasular disease (CVD) risk, the association was only seen in older adults with type II diabetes.
The Bottom Line
There is good evidence to suggest that unless you have heart disease or diabetes (or at risk), having an egg or two a day can be part of a healthy diet. For those with prediabetes, diabetes, high cholesterol or history of CVD, the recommendation is to limit egg yolks to 2 - 4 times a week. Overall, there is strong evidence suggesting benefits of eating more of a plant-based diet, including benefits for heart health. However, eggs, especially the egg yolks serve as an important source of nutrients for many groups of people.
For some, especially Lacto-ovo vegetarians (those who inlcude eggs and dairy in their diet), egg yolks are one of the only sources of vitamin B 12 is the diet. Vitamin B12 is essential for memory and neurological functions in the body.
Also, egg yolks are one of the very few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Yolks are one of the richest sources of choline, which has been associated with brain and nerve function and is especially important for pregnant women as choline has a crucial role in fetal brain development. It has been shown that most pregnant women do not get enough choline in their diets,