Are egg yolks bad for you?
Eggs, they get a good rap, they get a bad rap. And sometimes they just get wrapped…
in paint. Over 79 BILLION eggs are consumed each year in the US alone. It’s also a staple
breakfast item for many parts of the world and is an ingredient for many other popular
food. But eggs have been getting quite a lot of hate lately, particularly the egg yolk.
So what exactly is up with this delicious yellow center of an egg?
The main concern is the cholesterol, which for many years we’ve been told to be bad for
you and cause cardiovascular diseases. Egg whites contain exactly zero milligrams of
cholesterol while egg yolks contain roughly 185 milligrams, or 62% of the recommended
amount the ODPHP believes you should have per day. Seeing that most people typically
eat eggs in pairs, many people consume well over their recommended amount of cholesterol
before they even head out to work. And when the media began to spread the news of the
“dangers” of egg yolks due to its high cholesterol presence, everyone began avoiding yolks like
the plague. But people didn’t want to give up their eggs.
Since the stigma wasn’t that the entire egg was bad for you, the damage was only done
specifically to the egg yolk. Egg whites, however, was still seen as good. And with
that perception, the egg white craze took off! Almost all things that uses whole eggs
now have an egg white alternative. Egg white omelets, egg white pancakes, scrambled egg
whites, and even your popular fast food chains offer a “healthy” egg white option.
So does the science actually back up this claim about our voluptuous egg yolks?
Let’s first understand a bit more about cholesterol. Cholesterol is carried through blood vessels
in particles known as lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is the bad guy since
high concentration will build up plaque in your blood vessels, leading to coronary heart
diseases. High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is the good guys because they clear out those
pesky LDLs from hanging around the blood by taking them back to the liver.
Consuming egg yolks have shown to increase LDL, but simultaneously it increases HDL,
tipping the cholesterol scale to an even balance. Your body is also good at adapting to how
much cholesterol you eat. For many of the studies where they observed subjects eating
excess cholesterol, total cholesterol and lipoprotein levels tend to stay the same.
When you eat more cholesterol, your body will produce less of its own. Conversely, if you
eat less, your body will produce more. This was observed to the extreme in 1991 when an
88-year old man ate 25 eggs per day without any changes to his cholesterol and health.
Poor little hens in his town. As for other studies on eggs, they generally
show that regular egg consumption, including that scary yolk, is safe except for subjects
that are already predisposed to coronary heart disease, dealing with type 2 diabetes, or
have an overall bad diet to begin with. In these cases, they’ll have to be a bit more
careful with egg yolks and anything else containing those pesky LDLs.
For those of you that already switch to eating only egg whites, you’re currently missing
out on the multitude of nutrients that egg yolks have that egg whites don’t or have very
little of, such as calcium, iron, phosphorous, zinc, copper, manganese, thiamin, B vitamins
5, 6, 9, and 12, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Choline.
Oh, one more, leucine, which is the primary branched chain amino acid used for muscle
protein synthesis, aka GAINZ. Hey, at least egg whites contain 38 fewer calories. Woohoo.
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