Egg whites are extremely high in protein and low in calories. This makes them seem like an ideal healthy food choice. There are, however, certain camps that suggest egg whites are bad for you!
I can’t quite believe that this is still a thing, but if I’ve learned anything about the dieting and nutrition world, it’s that ‘things’ tend to linger like a bad smell, often for years. There are many nutrition myths that are quite frankly unfounded.
The egg whites only trend is still alive and kicking today, which is remarkable considering the vulnerability of some comparatively excellent nutritional fashions.
Eggs, in general and eaten in moderation are good for. They contain 21% of your daily vitamin D requirements.
Are the Whites of An Egg Bad for Me
Anyway, this isn’t a soap box, so I’ll make my point.
The big point to get over is the Cholesterol argument, i.e. dietary cholesterol is bad for you!
Except that it’s not – at least, no more than fat is bad for you in moderation.
Firstly, dietary cholesterol is not a lipoprotein (like LDL) which is one of the culprits of the heart disease people associate cholesterol with.
Cholesterol is in fact a steroid hormone which is responsible for many functions of cellular membranes and other vital processes.
We produce it endogenously (synthesized in the body) and the body strives to balance its production with the dietary cholesterol we consume.
It’s a good thing we do make it ourselves otherwise those people who have strictly avoided dietary cholesterol for years would have expired a long time ago.
The egg yolk is synonymous with this belief that dietary cholesterol is a nutritional evil.
The Egg Yolk
Inside each egg yolk there is:
- A high concentration of Leucine – a branched chain amino acid which offers us many benefits for muscle growth and recovery amongst others. There is otherwise not much protein in the Yolk.
- Oleic Acid – about half of the yolk is this omega-9 monounsaturated fat (also found in olive oil).
- Saturated fat and polyunsaturated fats. More Omega-6 than Omega-3
- Carotenoids (including lutein) – for example reduce oxidative stress in the eyes where they accumulate
Saturated fats have had some of the same bad press as cholesterol, and experts are only now starting to really confront the fact that they are all necessary components of good health.
The Egg White (Albumin)
The Egg White is of course where the majority of the protein is.
There are also some B vitamins.
When eggs are cooked, the heat destroys some enzymes which reduce the absorption of protein and the activity of the vitamins.
This is something to remember if you think about eating raw eggs like Rocky Balboa. It might look super fierce but it isn’t worth it in my opinion.
How Many Eggs?
The truth is that dietary cholesterol and saturated fats for that matter can be detrimental, but then so can many foods that we consider to be wholly healthy.
The clear message regarding eggs – as with so much in life – is balance.
For people who are not diabetic, it seems 6 or more eggs a week do not increase risk of coronary disease or stroke.
Studies with diabetics have produced mixed results. Unfortunately, there is currently a ‘maybe’ applied to the risk factor of a diabetic person feasting on eggs.
If you are diabetic, do yourself a favour and get professional medical and nutritional advice tailored specifically for you and your needs.
Omega 3 Addition
Omega 3 fatty acids are universally accepted as the healthiest of fats. Some eggs now come with added Omega 3, either directly or via the producing hen’s diet.
Usually the additive form is Alpha-Linolenic Acid because fish oil can make the egg smell fishy, which makes me want to throw up just thinking about it. Fishy eggs – no thanks. Stick to the ALA fortified ones.
The Bottom line on Egg Whites
The upshot is this: there isn’t much point in taking out the yolk of an egg and trying to convince yourself that scrambled egg whites taste good, because they just don’t.
Instead, eat about one cooked egg a day, and you will be benefiting from one of nature’s nutritional gems. It is a great low calorie food.
What you should be watching out for is both balance in your diet, and the real culprits of disease – trans fats and hydrogenated oils.
Any food item you pick up with those on the label should be avoided. Perhaps in another 4 decades we’ll decide those are good for us…but I doubt it.
So, egg whites are they bad for you – what do yo think?
1. Goodrow EF et al: Consumption of one egg per day increases serum lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations in older adults without altering serum lipid and lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations
2. Bovet P et al: Decrease in blood triglycerides associated with the consumption of eggs of hens fed with food supplemented with fish oil
3. Ohman M et al: Biochemical effects of consumption of eggs containing omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
4. Qureshi AI et al: Regular egg consumption does not increase the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases
5. HU FB et al: A prospective study of egg consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women
6. Radzeviciene L et al: Egg consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus: a case-control study