Most people focus on the cholesterol-rich yolk when they look at eggs. This often results in many people either using an egg substitute, such as Egg Beaters, or using only the egg whites rather than the yolks. So, I decided it would be good to take a look at all three, and discover how they fry up against one another.
Although yolks are cholesterol-rich, they’re also packed with valuable nutrients, such as fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. In fact, yolks are considered to be the most nutritious part of the egg. According to the Egg Nutrition Center, yolks contain vitamins A, D, E, and K and are rich in calcium, folate, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins B1 (Thiamine), B6, and B12. Yolks also contain magnesium, sodium, and niacin, as well as copper, manganese, potassium, riboflavin, and selenium. Another essential nutrient found in the yolk is choline, and, two other important nutrients, lutein and zeaxanthin, are also abundant in the yolks, and they’re important because they help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts.
One large yolk has 55 calories, 4.3 grams of fat, and over 2.7 grams of protein. It also has 210 mg of cholesterol but is low in saturated fat with 1.6 grams. According to the American Heart Association, cholesterol should account for no more than 300 mg per day for a healthy person, but if you’re on a heart healthy diet, the American Heart Association’s cholesterol recommendations are 200 mg or less per day. That means if you eat one egg, you’ve eaten your limit for the day.
Egg whites contain less nutrients than the buttery yellow yolks. They have a relatively small amount of vitamin B12, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, riboflavin, and zinc, although they do contain more sodium and postassium than a yolk. Egg whites have no cholesterol, saturated fat, or trans fat and are also a good source of protein with 3.6 grams. In addition, one large egg white has 17 calories.
According to Nutrition Data, egg substitutes, such as Egg Beaters, contain 39 calories for every 1.5 ounces of liquid. The total fat content is 1.5 grams, with 0.3 grams saturated fat, 0.4 grams monosaturated fat, and 0.8 grams polyunsaturated fat. They have 6.0 grams of protein and 0 mg of cholesterol; however, egg substitutes are also higher in sodium than a yolk or an egg white (83 mg versus 8 mg versus 55 mg, respectively). Egg yolks and egg substitutes contain nearly the same amount of calcium and phosphorus but egg substitutes have alot more potassium (about six times more). In addition, egg substitutes contain artificial color, artificial flavor, corn oil, and emulsifiers.
Egg yolks, egg whites, and egg substitutes all have pros and cons. If you have no heart-health conditions, eggs with the yolks are a good choice because they offer so many nutrients and health benefits. However, you still want to consume eggs conservatively, meaning no more than one a day. If you’re on a low cholesterol diet, egg whites or egg substitutes are usually the best choice for you, and, when possible, you should opt for egg whites rather than egg substitutes to avoid artificial colors and flavors, as well as other additives.
If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of eggs available, read Which Eggs to Buy? If you’re interested in learning about the health benefits of eggs, read Are Eggs Healthy?, and if you’re interested in learning about cardiovascular disease and eggs, read Eggs and Your Health.