Common question about eggs #1: “Is it healthier to only eat the egg white?”
It’s neither healthier nor unhealthy to only eat the egg whites. The reason is the egg white and yolk provide different nutrients. Their nutrients really don’t overlap (except for protein and small amounts of Vitamin B’s). If you’re only eating one part of the egg, you’re missing out on the other nutrients. Your decision to eat different parts of the egg may be influenced by what it’s been said about egg’s cholesterol content and their risk to disease, but it should also depend on the overall nutritional quality of your diet. To further clarify egg’s role in disease risk and to answer the burning question of how many eggs should you eat in a day, keep reading.
To help visualize the difference in nutrients, look at the comparison below. It’s obvious that the egg white is low in calories due to the fat free content and it’s a good source of protein, but it doesn’t provide many vitamins or minerals. On the other hand, a whole egg provides more calories (nearly 4x more than the egg white alone) and it has a substantial amount of cholesterol, but it has many more vitamins and minerals.
Common question about eggs #2: “How many whole eggs can I safely eat in a day?”
Most people’s concern with eating whole eggs is due to the egg yolk’s high cholesterol content. It’s an understandable concern, considering one egg yolk has 187 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. Some health experts recommend a healthy adult to have under 300 mg of dietary cholesterol a day, so an egg yolk would provide more than half of the day’s worth, seems like a lot right? While older dietary recommendations have mostly given cholesterol a bad reputation, it’s important to keep in mind cholesterol is necessary for many of our body’s physiological and structural functions, including construction of the cell membrane, hormone production and other vital functions. For the most part, our body can produce its own cholesterol. We also get some dietary cholesterol from foods such as eggs. But don’t lay off the eggs just yet. Eggs are a tasty and affordable source of high quality protein with many healthful vitamins and minerals. Sure, they have cholesterol however, more recent studies have suggested that the cholesterol in eggs doesn’t seem to stimulate an increase in cholesterol levels the way foods with saturated fat and trans fat do (saturated and trans are often found in processed foods such as desserts, baked goods: cakes, cookies, pastries, donuts and croissants, sausages, hot dogs, bacon, and ribs or ice cream — foods that are best eaten in modest portions, sparingly).
Getting back to the question, most healthy adults can safely eat up to 7 whole eggs a week. For egg whites only, more could be safely eaten since it’s a great source of protein. Additionally, I recommend to consider one’s health history and look at the other sources of dietary cholesterol in the diet. If not contraindicated by medical conditions and your diet consists majority of whole foods, minimal processed foods and mostly limiting added sugars, trans fat or saturated fat, you might even consider having 1-2 whole eggs a day without a problem.
Eggs are a natural powerhouse of nutrients, so enjoy some eggs in moderation and as part of a balanced diet.