What’s the REAL deal with eggs?
You’ll hear many people state as fact that you shouldn’t eat whole eggs and that you should just stick to eating the egg whites due to the yolks in eggs containing fat and cholesterol. Well, guess what. They’re absolutely right when it comes to the nutritional makeup of the egg, but they are 100% wrong in telling you not to eat the whole egg.
Back in the 70’s they started with the whole “cholesterol is bad!” argument and systematically pushed to limit intake of any food with cholesterol. Fast forward 40 years and we’ve discovered there is bad cholesterol (LDL) and good cholesterol (HDL).
Egg yolks are good cholesterol, the kind you want and the kind your liver already produces (more on this later). Thailand did a study and found that adding one whole egg to your diet a day increased the HDL levels of the participants. They pushed further and even with a diet of six eggs a day, saw no increase in LDL (bad cholesterol).
From the Thai study:
OBJECTIVE: To determine the relationship between continuous egg consumption with Thai life-style dietary and serum lipids of healthy young people.
MATERIAL AND METHOD: Fifty-six participants with an average age of 35 were enrolled. In an experimental method of cholesterol intake, all participants were fed an additional egg per day to their basic diet. This project ran for 12 weeks.
RESULTS: The 12-week egg consumption significantly increased serum total cholesterol by 0.27 +/- 0.15 mmol/L (10.43 +/- 5.80 mg/dL) (p < 0.05). The HDL-cholesterol (HDL-c) increased significant by 0.55 +/- 0.06 mmol/L (21.80 +/- 2.25 mg/dL) (p < 0.001) while the total cholesterol (TC) decreased as the HDL-c ratio was 0.94 +/- 1.1 (p < 0.001). No significant changes were found in LDL-cholesterol (LDL-c) and triglyceride levels. The present study showed that small serum LDL-c changed in response to change of egg consumption. Additionally, 12-week egg consumption also resulted in an increasing HDL-c level.
CONCLUSION: In the majority of healthy adults, an addition of one egg per day to a normal fat diet could raise HDL-c levels and decreased the ratio of TC toHDL-c. Therefore, egg consumption might benefit blood cholesterol.
Egg yolks are good cholesterol and fat. Simple.
Furthering the importance of eating the whole egg - egg yolks are high in choline. Choline, generally only found in fatty foods and foods high in cholesterol, is thought to be extremely important in the livers proper ability to handle fat. So by diligently avoiding all foods containing cholesterol, you could be setting yourself up for some serious health problems. Chris Masterjohn has the long and complex answer as to why this is.
The majority of the micro-nutrients are also in the egg yolk. The yolk is really the much healthier part of the egg and if you were going to just eat whites or yolks, the yolks would be the much better choice. Not that there is anything wrong with the white, it’s got the protein, so just eat the whole food and be healthy!
The only people who typically eat just egg whites are bodybuilders needing just the protein and no other micro/macro-nutrients when they are on a major cutting/caloric deficit cycle prior to a show.
Long story short, anyone telling you egg yolks are bad for you is still living off 40 year old information and probably isn’t your best source for health advice.