I’ve been getting a lot of questions since our last post on why raw eggs won’t kill you and why you even need to be eating egg yolks. What is egg yolk nutrition? Are they safe? Healthy?
You’ve seen it before: restaurants touting a healthier version of an omelet or breakfast sandwich, made only with egg whites. The reality is that in the process of stripping the yolk from the egg, you are robbing yourself of the most nutrient dense part of this incredible food. Let’s take a look at what makes the whole egg (and eating egg yolks, specifically) a powerful food that you should keep in your diet.
1. Cholesterol Myth
We should clarify, before anyone has a heart attack from discussing eating egg yolks, that dietary cholesterol DOES NOT raise serum (blood) cholesterol and is NOT in any way correlated with an increased risk of heart disease. This is one of the biggest myths of nutrition (along with the calories in = calories out myth) that continues to circulate, no matter how much contrary evidence exists. Stay tuned for a future in-depth post on the differences between dietary and serum cholesterol and their uses within the body.
Many have experienced a poor lipid panel followed by doctor’s orders to stop eating eggs. Well, researchers have found that when paired with a low carbohydrate diet, WHOLE eggs actually improve lipid panels and decrease the risk of atherogenic heart disease. This is especially true when compared with eating egg whites alone.
2. Eye Food – Carotenoids: Lutein and Zeaxanthin
Lutein, also known as the eye vitamin€ helps protect against macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye related disorders. You get lutein from eating egg yolks. Lutein acts as a filter against harmful spectrum UV light and is also used as antioxidants for the parts of the eye that receive and process light as information. Lutein significantly reduces the risk of age related eye conditions.
3. Muscle Food – Maximum Protein Utilization
The biological value of food is scored for the amount of available protein that the human body can assimilate into new proteins. Whole eggs (which means eating egg yolks, not egg whites) are ranked number one, with a score of 100 on the biological value scale of 0-100 of the body’s utilization of a food. That’s right, you absorb and use more amino acids for building lean tissues in eggs than any other source of food. Drinking raw eggs in your post workout shake to build up muscles is not a bad idea, but there are definitely better ways to prepare them.
4. Brain Food – Choline
Not only does choline help in reducing chronic inflammation and levels of homocysteine in the blood, but it is also one of the highest regulators of nervous tissue in your body. Choline is an essential component of acetylcholine, one of the most important neurotransmitters in the nervous system.
Choline is also required in regulating cell membranes in your body to decide which things go in and out of your cells. Choline has also been found to increase brain development and long term memory in utero as well as in childhood.
If that wasn’t enough, choline is also responsible for liver function and prevention of cancer.
The highest sources of choline in the diet are beef liver and – you guessed it- eating egg yolks.
5. The Fat Soluble Vitamin Family: Vitamins A, D, E, and K
Egg yolk nutrition contains over 100% of the recommended daily allowance for each of these fat soluble vitamins:
Vitamin A is necessary for the eyes to adapt to changes in light, for bone growth, reproduction, immune system support and much more.
Vitamin D is so powerful it shouldn’t even be called a vitamin.€ There is so much that vitamin D does that it warrants a separate post all together. Vitamin D can be thought of as a pre-hormone€ as it regulates several major cellular pathways in the body.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Vitamin K is essential for proper wound healing, kidney health and bone formation.
The good news is that you are also getting plenty of essential fatty acids with the egg yolk so you’ll actually absorb these fat soluble vitamins.
Hint: those vitamin D (or A, E, K) caps you take all of the time? Better make sure they’re taken with fat so your body can actually use them.
6. Essential Fatty Acids
The egg yolk nutrition is packed with DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachadonic acid), the most usable forms of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These are fats that you must get from your diet because they are not produced endogenously. They are important for cell membrane health among many other reasons.
Although it is not an essential fatty acid, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is another important fatty acid found in egg yolks. CLA helps with losing body fat, improving the immune system and increasing lean body tissue.
7. EGG YOLK NUTRITION – the Natural Multivitamin
The whole egg provides you with a gigantic profile of micronutrients in addition to the ones already listed. Calcium, Iron, Phosphorous, B6, B12, Manganese, Folate, Selenium, and more are all found in eggs, and mostly in the yolks. Stop throwing your multivitamins away.
As always, it is important to try to source your food appropriately. Humans eating sick animals makes for sick humans. Cooking can sometimes play into preservation of all of the health benefits listed above. The definitive guide to cooking eggs can be found here.
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