The Nutritional Value of Egg Whites Versus Egg Yolks: What Do You Use?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? My vote is the egg, especially since this post is all about them. The latest and greatest debate lately has been: What is better for you, the egg white or egg yolk?

Eggs are a great source of a complete high quality protein with few calories. One whole egg has ~5.5 grams of protein in only ~68 calories. Eggs contain choline, which is important, especially since our bodies can not produce enough of it. Without enough choline, you can also become deficient in another essential nutrient, folic acid.

Let’s take a closer look at each.

Egg Whites

Egg whites are a low-calorie, fat-free food. They contain the bulk of the egg’s protein. The egg white contains about 4 grams of protein, 55 mg of sodium and only 17 calories. A single egg white also offers 1.3 micrograms of folate, 6.6 mcg of selenium, 2.3 mg of calcium, 3.6 mg of magnesium, and 4.9 mg of phosphorus and 53.8 mg of potassium.

Egg Yolks

It is true, egg yolks carry the cholesterol, the fat and saturated fat of the egg. However, what is often overlooked are the many nutrients that come with that, such as the fat-soluble vitamins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients. One egg yolk has around 55 calories, 4.5 grams of total fat and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, 210 mg of cholesterol, 8 mg of sodium, and 2.7 grams of protein.

The table below by the USDA compares the nutrients of the egg white versus the egg yolk, along with a comparison of the percentage of total nutrition found in the yolk and white.

Nutrients: Egg Yolks Versus Egg Whites

Nutrient White Yolk % Total in White % Total in Yolk
Protein 3.6 g 2.7g 57% 43%
Fat 0.05g 4.5g 1% 99%
Calcium 2.3 mg 21.9 mg 9.5% 90.5%
Magnesium 3.6 mg 0.85 mg 80.8% 19.2%
Iron 0.03 mg 0.4 mg 6.2% 93.8%
Phosphorus 5 mg 66.3 mg 7% 93%
Potassium 53.8 mg 18.5 mg 74.4% 25.6%
Sodium 54.8 mg 8.2 mg 87% 13%
Zinc 0.01 mg 0.4 mg 0.2% 99.8%
Copper 0.008 mg 0.013 mg 38% 62%
Manganese 0.004 mg 0.009 mg 30.8% 69.2%
Selenium 6.6 mcg 9.5 mcg 41% 59%
Thiamin 0.01 mg 0.03 mg 3.2% 96.8%
Riboflavin 0.145 mg 0.09 mg 61.7% 48.3%
Niacin 0.035 mg 0.004 mg 89.7% 9.3%
Pantothenic acid. 0.63 mg 0.51 mg 11% 89%
B6 0.002 mg 0.059 mg 3.3% 96.7%
Folate 1.3 mcg 24.8 mcg 5% 95%
B12 0.03 mcg 0.331 mcg 8.3% 91.7%
Vitamin A 0 IU 245 IU 0% 100%
Vitamin E 0 mg 0.684 mg 0% 100%
Vitamin D 0 IU 18.3 IU 0% 100%
Vitamin K 0 IU 0.119 IU 0% 100%
DHA and AA 0 94 mg 0% 100%
Carotenoids 0 mcg 21 mcg 0% 100%

As you can see, the egg yolk has more actual nutrients, but in my opinion the entire egg gives the most complete nutrition.

It is interesting that over the years there have been different recommendations regarding the best part of the egg. New research shows that, contrary to previous belief, moderate consumption of eggs does not have a negative impact on cholesterol. In fact, recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it.

Research suggests that it is saturated fat that raises cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol. However, if you suffer from coronary artery disease or have any heart health issues like high cholesterol, the recommendation is still to limit your dietary intake of cholesterol. Usually high-fat and high-saturated fat foods will also be higher in cholesterol.

Are you leery of eating egg yolks? What ways have you found to use egg whites?

 

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Photo Credit: Ella Novak

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Read 66 Comments

      1. I hate when people say, “anything in moderation.” No, not anything in moderation, there are a lot of things that shouldn’t be taken in at all….

          1. Disagree in moderation?
            Deep fried anything?
            Chips?
            Junk?
            Lard?

            Pretty sure some things aren’t good for you no matter what the moderation.

        1. Anything that is defined as edible and digestible by the human body, with the exception of illegal drugs and alcohol of course. But then again there are many chemicals that are manufactured into our foods that are now being found to be unhealthy such as Aspertame and GMOs.

          1. There are reported health benefits from moderate consumption of alcohol (reversatrol in red wine for instance and I believe some studies have been done in relation to beer).

    1. Then..what’s this statement from the publisher “recent studies have shown that regular consumption of two eggs per day does not affect a person’s lipid profile and may, in fact, improve it” ?

      1. Eggs contain Omega 3, which regulates cholesterol. If a particular person’s only source of Omega 3 were eggs, it can help a person with that particular diet practice. But other sources of Omega 3 should be part of a good diet.

  1. Grace,
    Thank you for documenting the benefits of eating the whole egg. I cringe when I hear people say they throw away the egg yolk! But as a retired dietitian who has changed her tune about fats, I take exception to your cautions about saturated fat. Those who have looked carefully at the research have found no evidence that natural saturated fats or cholesterol actually cause heart disease or any other health problem. I have several links on my website about the benefits of saturated fats here: http://home.roadrunner.com/~krisjohnson/Kris/Carbs&Fats.htm#SatFat.
    Excessive amounts of polyunsaturated fats and the trans fats derived from them are the real problem. The best way to improve important cardiac risk factors, that is increase HDL and lower triglycerides, is to limit carbs and most vegetable oils, while getting adequate natural saturated fats in the diet. This is nicely documented in the book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, by Jeff Volek, PhD, RD, and Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD
     

    1. Hi Kris,
       
      Thank you so much for your comment. I actually have been reading about this new research lately about saturated fat. I think that you bring up a very good point. I will definitely check out your website and look into that book. Thank you for sharing with us.

    2. One thing that helps me with losing weight is ditching the yolk; using 3 egg whites with spinach and mushrooms for breakfast. fills me up, and I’m losing the weight,

      1. I have extreme high blood pressure….enlarged heart…so HAVE TO BE VERY CAREFUL what I eat. I stopped eating eggs…ONLY EGG WHITES…WITH ONIONS AND MUSHROOMS…LOL…NO SALT! Now Doctors put me on “50,000 unit of vitamin D2….

  2. There is much to learn, Grace. And we’re kind of swimming upstream. You might like to join the Facebook group Healthy Nation Coalition, which is populated by a lot of RD’s who are learning the truth about fat and cholesterol and carbs.

    1. I agree, Kris. And the tricky part is it is ever evolving with more to learn. I just tried to join the Healthy Nation Coalition group via Facebook, but it is not letting me for some reason. I will keep trying. Thank you for the recommendation. :o)

  3. Great stuff Grace! I’m glad to see that that are more specialists trying to educate people to accept healthy fats as part of their diets. I’m trying to do the same through my blog. It’s been a few good decades since natural foods have been demonized while consumption of high sugar high carb processed foods have been encouraged by the media and medical community. Now I’m gonna go make myself a 6 eggs omelette( :

  4. Great article!

    The true irony is how many people avoid the egg yolk, then overeat giant dishes of pasta or pizza and drink an oversized pepsi.

  5. Hello grace…
    dat ws such a benficial informatn..
    Is it fyn if v take 2 white portions at a tym instead of eatn a whole egg??

  6. I’m interested in knowing if the protein in egg whites is readily digestible. Some years ago I read a source that reported that it is not.

  7. I love the whole egg taste. I sometimes feel guilty because of reports about the yolk and throw it out. Is there something healthy to use it for? I eat about 2 whole egg omelets daily, 3-4 days a week. I add kale, spinach, onion, tomatoes, green peppers, the veggies vary, but you get the idea. I am starting to add chia seeds. This is such a great start to my day.

  8. There is a recipe for gluten free pancakes on Pinterest. The recipe calls for: 1 mashed banana and 2 eggs mixed in with the mashed banaana. Another variation of this recipe calls for 1/2 tsp. of baking powder. Also both recipes add blueberries for extra antioxidants (if you have some).

    I decided since my family history has serious cholesterol issues, I would try a different version of this recipe. I took 1 medium banana and mashed it. I added 1/2 tsp of baking powder to the mashed banana. I then stirred in the whites only, of 3 ex-large eggs. I mixed all this together really well using a hand whip (NOT electric). I then poured pancake size portions into a hot, non stick fry pan sprayed with cooking spray and cooked just like any regular pancake. I topped my pancakes with sugar free syrup. The syrup I use is sweetened with Sucralose, not Aspartame (which I will not use). These are EXCELLENT!!

    Unfortunately, for every article I have read about cholesterol and saturated fat, there is only one thing I have found that is consistent and that is that it continues to be controversial. So, in light of that, I try to avoid as many foods as possible that contain more than a few grams of cholesterol and try to stick mostly with foods that supposedly have the good fats.

  9. I am following a liver cleanse with Dr Linda Page of Healthy Healing. I am doing this because I have a chronic sneezing and runny nose syndrome, and the first three days of the liver cleanse with the Liver Renew tablets by Dr Linda Page cleared that up. But I am back to adding an egg every morning to my diet. In addition I have had some lamb and some salmon because I get really hungry since I am very active. That is why I looked up the fat content of my morning egg, which I have even on days that I have only brown rice and vegetables. My runny nose returned and the sneezing too.

  10. I eat eggs every day. I know the yolk has the goods so I love a sunny side up egg or three. Lately I listened to a show on iTunes that suggested separating the egg and cooking only the white in coconut oil or grass fed butter and then adding the contents of the hot pan, fat and all, to the raw yolks. Stir the plate around to break open the yolks and warm them and it’s like the best sunny side up egg ever. Or three. Super yummy. And very silky. I know all about the cholesterol hoopla.

  11. well, the nutritional values of each part shows us that both are pretty rich with amount of protein, minerals and vitamins,so my question is why bodybuilders use only the white side of an egg claiming its the most valuable with protein?? Wouldn’t it be much reasonable to use both part together ?

  12. From one RD to you Grace, well said! Thank you for sharing. This is what I’ve been telling my patients all along 🙂

  13. Thank you for this article. The info resonates with most of what I’ve found in real life.
    I have one question. How does boiling the egg modify the nutrition value listed above, if at all?

  14. I’ve recently started making omelettes every day for breakfast and also take out the yolk, as in my Biology class I have learned that our bodies create all the cholesterol we need and that ingestion of excess cholesterol overloads the blood and causes damage to the arteries. If our bodies already make all the cholesterol we need, then I don’t see why we need to intake more even if the egg yolk does have some nutritional value.

  15. So, the protein in egg whites can cause an allergic reaction? I have been having running nose and sneezing in the mornings, oftentimes after breakfast. And, I have been having egg whites for breakfast. So, wouldn’t protein in other foods also cause the same reaction?

    1. You may be having a problem with excess histamine. Try just eating the yolk as the whites are a high histamine food.
      I have this problem and there are many symptoms. If you want to learn more about it go to “low histamine chef”.
      I hope this helps.

  16. Finally some common sense. I have been eating one egg a day 40 years of adult life.
    I am 118 pounds, perfect cholesterol and lipid counts and healthy. No aches and pains. Eggs
    in moderation and not saturated with butter and mayonnaise are a complete food. What I DON’T eat
    is donuts, candy, potato chips, unhealthy frozen yogurt loaded with chemicals, hot dogs and french fries.
    No need to worry about staying away from healthy foods – just stay away from Junk Food.
    Once in a while, of course, we splurge (it’s fun to have a big dish of ice cream sometimes, but
    not a regular diet).
    Everyone I know with an eating disorder, only eat the white of an egg. Healthy people eat the whole
    egg.
    Have an egg every morning – NOT a donut.

  17. Hi Grace,
    Interesting information about the egg contents.

    Even dieting is not my major subject in writing. As a retired Biotech business owner, I am writing mostly about Marketing and travelling.

    I have written a post recently just about my weight reduction with an egg – grapefruit diet. It is the first one that worked for me.

    I see it a quick correction measure now when I get out of my range of 87 kgs back to 85.

    Important for me was that I had a rewarding plan eating every Sunday totally normal. With carbs and even cakes.

    Normally this adds 1 to 1,5 kgs on Monday but Tuesday I am back.

    Please keep me posted on your findings.

    Greetings from Germany ( normally I am residing in Guatemala)

    Richard

    1. Really? As a child I hated the white, tho I now loooove eggs, & my 3 yr old makes me PEEL away the white from pouched egg so she only eats the yolk lol

  18. Hi Grace,
    Recently got my cholesterol level checked and it was 6.9, where as 8 months ago it was 4.5. maybe it was partly because I stopped taking statins for quite a while. Im 62 years old woman, I love eggs.Can you please suggest what shall I do to be able to consume eggs as before and carry on my statins.ve stopped taking egg yolks at the moment.

  19. Thank you for this post. I’m currently working on a degree in the Science of Food and Nutrition. I have recently learned that every cell in our body needs cholesterol. Cholesterol helps maintain the integrity of cell membranes as well as helps them communicate with each other. You throw away that good cholesterol from a yard egg, and your missing out on a simple way to keep your body healthy.

  20. A a Hispanic, I eat eggs(2) for breakfast or dinner, sometimes both. With fresh potato fries, homemade refried beans, queso fresco or guacamole and homemade flour tortillas.. it’s exquisite. We make everything homemade, it tastes 10X better!

  21. I have familial hyper-cholesterolemia, and have elevated LDL levels despite a healthy vegetation diet and regular exercise. I have been discarding the egg yolks because for years I was told they were contributing to high cholesterol, and I wanted the low-call protein from the whites. Now, it seems this has been proven to be false. I don’t want to take statins, and have been seeing info about natural remedies, noting I consume a good amount of garlic daily. Anyone have info about natural remedies which might be appropriate in my case? Thanks!

  22. I’ve read elsewhere that egg yolk also provides iodine, which is crucial for metabolism. Specifically, one boiled egg provides 8% of the suggested daily value (DV)*. A glass of milk provides 37% of the DV and a baked potato with peel 40%*. Tuna, shrimp, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, sardines, prunes, navy beans, and baked turkey breast are other possible sources.

    * https://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/natural-foods-high-in-iodine.php

  23. I’ve always had incredible perfect cholesterol even still at 60 yrs of living. I love eggs. Usually eat 1 or two whites. Occasionally a yolk. Works for me.

  24. Favorite family breakfast (or supper):
    “Golden Rod Eggs on Toast”

    Four -six boiled eggs (slightly cool, then peel)
    White sauce (Medium consistency, made with 2% milk) – about 2 – 3 cups
    toast

    Slice the eggs in half and separate the yolks and whites, placing whites on a plate and yolks into small bowl. Mash yolks finely with a fork (or press through a small sieve for a better look) This is the the ‘golden rod’. Coarsely chop egg whites with a knife. Stir whites into bubbly hot white sauce.
    For each serving, spoon the sauce generously onto a piece of toast. Sprinkle with the golden rod.

    This was a popular breakfast on the farm, providing everyone with a ‘stick to your ribs’ breakfast that kept you going through all the hard work!

  25. I am a young 60. Heavens… How quickly that happened!. I am 5 2..weigh 118…struggling to get to 112/114. Nightmare metabolism. Obsessed with weight all my nursing..MSN life! So..cannot eat more than 400 Cal. People scream at me…but it’s true!!! Eggbeaters are my life!!!!! I make them delicious with a dash of 1% milk…cinnamon…orange flavouring, Stevia.. Microwave.. Pretend it’s Grand Marnier Souffle. Whole egg…One hard-boiled every 3 days with salad. Good luck ladies my age. I dance to Tina daily too.

  26. I have been on Statins for 15 years, without knowing they were causing me harm. I did not touch eggs all those years, because they were said to cause cholesterol, and further block arteries. After finding out about the harm Statins cause, I stopped taking Statins a month ago. I am learning about supplements to repair the damage Statins have DEFINITELY cause me, and I now include 2 pouched eggs in my diet every day. I found the chart very reassuring that eggs are good for my recovery from Statins, and all the other drugs that go with the Statins, because of the ill effects that Statins cause. It has only been a month, but my health has improved 100% .

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