Yolk. Should we eat it or shouldn’t we? Just before the turn of the millennium, yolk received a lot of scrutiny from critics as they believed it raised cholesterol. Even when you log an egg into the myfitnesspal app, a little notification reads “This food is high in cholesterol.” The fear of raised cholesterol has caused many people to take yolks out of their eggs or even eliminate eggs from their diet altogether. But before we jump to eliminating a food completely from our diet, we should look at what is really in an egg and what it does for our bodies in the first place.
What’s in a Yolk?
If you compare the nutrition value of a whole egg (with the yolk) and whole egg white (without the yolk), you’ll find there is a significant difference between the two as the yolk of the egg contains most of the egg’s nutrients. Some significant differences is that an egg yolk contains Vitamin A & D, Folate, and Choline.
Most importantly, egg yolks contain lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that provide the yellow pigment for yolks. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to help protect against age-related macular degeneration which leads to blindness. (IncredibleEgg)
And most importantly, there’s a whole lot of cholesterol. However, a study at Framingham in 1982 showed that dietary cholesterol is not related to increase Coronary Heart Disease risk. After this study, a whole lot of other studies made the same conclusions, causing Dietary Guidelines 2010 to suggest that “Independent of other dietary factors, evidence suggests that on egg per day does not result in increased blood cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people”. What does this mean? If you have CVD or are at risk for CVD, you should limit your weekly intake of eggs to lower your cholesterol. But if you are healthy and follow a healthy diet, one whole egg per day will not increase your cholesterol.
So… Should We Eat Whole Eggs, or No?
If you have or are at risk for cardiovascular disease, you should probably limit your intake of egg yolks according to your doctor. There are plenty of egg substitutes purposely made to avoid intake of cholesterol.
If you do not have cardiovascular disease and live a healthy lifestyle, don’t be scared of a whole egg a day. Egg yolks are full of important nutrients such as Choline, which plays an important role in brain development and can potentially prevent Alzheimer’s. It also contains plenty of carotenoids that prevent degeneration of the eye that causes blindness in older people.