Are Eggs Good for You? + Egg Whites vs. Egg Yolks
Are eggs good for you? This is a hotly debated topic that is high time we addressed, and we’ll also cover the benefits of eating egg whites and egg yolks,.
Egg whites used to be a core part of every weight-loss program, and I’m sure you’ve heard of health and fitness buffs swearing by the “egg white and spinach omelets” every morning.
So what’s with the taboo on the egg yolks?
Unfortunately, most of the advice out there on eggs was misguided for many years due to some older scientific studies that have since been debunked.
First, let’s look at the scientific arguments AGAINST eggs:
Eggs contain saturated fat.
This is true, but unsaturated fat does NOT cause heart disease.
In the largest meta-analysis of cohort studies evaluating saturated fat and heart disease with 347,747 participants, there was absolutely no association between the two (1).
Another study by the Cochran review with over 59,000 participants found that people who reduced their saturated fat intake were just as likely to die or get heart attacks (2).
The fear of saturated fat for healthy people is a little misguided.
Eggs are high in cholesterol.
Again this is true, but people respond differently to dietary cholesterol.
70% of people who eat eggs do not see any rise in “bad” cholesterol, and 30% of others see only a mild raising of LDL.
It also seems that those who are eating a healthy diet see benefits in cholesterol from having eggs. In one study, 2 eggs per day for 6 weeks increased good cholesterol levels by 10% in people eating a good diet (4, 5, 6).
Eggs are not allowed to be called healthy by the USDA.
Because of our first two points, the USDA will not call eggs “healthy,” although they have updated their recommendations to not specifying an upper limit to cholesterol in 2016.
The real truth is this: If you are trusting the USDA or the government to keep you healthy, you are leaving a lot to chance.
Just a couple of years ago, the government was telling people to start their day off “healthy” with muffins, bagels, and sugary cereals.
Government recommendations move much slower than the actual science.
Are Eggs Good for You?
Now, let’s look at some evidence for the other team.
We also have a short video on this topic on our YouTube Channel, The Health Nerd, that you might find helpful!
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Eggs are a good source of a complete protein.
The protein found in eggs is complete, with all essential amino acids intact.
They contain 5-6 grams of protein per whole egg, depending on the size, so they are a good source of protein.
Eggs are filling.
Eggs contain helpful antioxidants for the eyes.
In one controlled trial, eating just 1.5 egg yolks per day for 4.5 weeks increased blood levels of Lutein by 28-50% and Zeaxanthin by 114-142% (12).
Eggs do not raise the risk of heart disease or stroke.
In one review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants, there was no association found between egg consumption and heart disease or stroke (13).
Eggs contain lots of vitamins and nutrients that the body needs.
More specifically, they contain vitamin A, Folate, vitamins B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, Phosphorus, Selenium, Zinc, Calcium, and others.
Also, pasture-raised eggs are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than non-pasture-raised eggs.
Is there any benefit to eating only egg whites?
The problem with the egg white approach is that the majority of the nutrients listed above are found in the yolk.
While egg whites are a great source of a complete protein without fat, it is generally better to eat the entire egg. The exception to this would be if you are avoiding fat or on a calorie-restrictive diet.
Can I eat too many?
There are plenty of studies out there showing that people have no adverse effects after eating up to 3 whole eggs a day.
You can probably eat more than that and be fine, but that’s the science we currently have on the topic.
I personally do not eat more than 2 whole eggs a day, because my skin is sensitive to biotin and omega fatty acids.
Do I have to eat eggs to be healthy?
Rest assured, my plant-eating advocates, there is no real super nutritional advantage of an egg that cannot be found in plant sources.
While eggs are incredibly healthy, so are a lot of other foods.
Don’t feel like you have to eat eggs to be healthy, but consider adding them into your diet if you like them and they work for you.
Any time you add a new food to your diet in large quantities, make sure to listen to your body and keep an eye out for any adverse effects.
Bottom line: It matters more whether a food is healthy for YOU, not whether it is considered “generally healthy” for everyone else.
Looking for a diet plan to help you incorporate more healthier, whole foods into your life?
This is a big emphasis of our 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge, as it’s about changing our eating habits and re-learning what we should and should not be eating.
People lose an average of 10-21 pounds in 21 days and absolutely love it! But even better than the weight loss is the feedback we get from people about how the program has taught them how to change their eating habits and find a diet that truly works for them in the long-term.
You can read more information about the 21-Day Fat Loss Challenge by clicking here.