Are Egg Whites Healthier than Whole Eggs?

By Mary Parsons, MS, RD

Q: Are Egg Whites Really Healthier than Whole Eggs?

A: Egg whites have a long-standing reputation as a healthy choice, but is this an old-fashioned idea? In moderation, whole eggs are such a perfect package of nutrition that most nutrition professionals are beginning to agree that tossing out the yolk is a relic of our cholesterol-phobic past.

The American Heart Association still recommends that as a general rule, people keep dietary cholesterol intake to a maximum of 300 milligrams each day; and with 210 milligrams in one egg yolk, it’s not difficult to exceed that level. However, current science indicates that for most individuals, the cholesterol content of the foods that we eat has little impact on blood cholesterol levels compared to other factors like saturated fat and genetics.

While the yolk does contain the egg’s fat and cholesterol, it also holds the majority of the essential nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, choline, and folic acid. Egg whites get a lot of credit for their high-quality protein content, but most people don’t realize that the yolk is an even denser source of protein!

Does this mean that whole eggs are always recommended over egg whites?  Not necessarily. If you’re dining on a breakfast platter that includes other calorie-dense foods, substituting egg whites can be an easy way to cut calories and make the meal fit into your caloric guidelines. And when you’re cooking at home, you can get the best of both worlds by combining a whole egg with a couple of tablespoons of refrigerated egg whites.