What to Know About Egg Whites vs. Yolk: Nutrition, Protein, Benefits, & More

Written by Claire Hannum
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, RD

July 3, 2023

“Eating one egg per day is as dangerous as smoking five cigarettes.”

This viral quote is just one example of the latest wave of egg hysteria to hit the internet—something that seems to happen every few years without fail. Misinformation, contradictory studies, and misleading cherry-picking of data have come together to leave many Americans believing that eggs are bad for them.

The most recent egg panic was sparked by the inaccurate quote above, which went viral on Twitter. Before that, it was the 2017 Netflix documentary, What the Health: a film that—you guessed it—made jaw-dropping claims about eggs, implying that they’re one of the most dangerous things one could ever eat.

These claims leave me flabbergasted every time. And I’m not the only one feeling this way…

Top health podcaster and wellness journalist Max Lugavere said it best in a recent newsletter: “Just when I thought eggs were off the hook, some charlatan has got to drag them, AGAIN.”

All charlatans aside…I’m stepping in to tell you why eggs aren’t so bad (they’re actually the superhero of superfoods), and why the public demonized them in the first place. Let’s get into it…

Egg Whites Vs. Egg Yolks: Settling the Dietary Debate

Separating the whites of an egg from the yolk has come to be considered the healthier breakfast option (thanks to dangerous low-fat diet trends). But the thing is… there isn’t a “bad” part of an egg.

The main benefit to egg whites is that they have protein, but other than that, egg whites don’t pack as  much nutritional value. Most of the nutrients  are found in the yolk.

In each rich, golden yolk, you’ll find protein, iron, vitamin A, selenium (which supports the immune system), riboflavin (a B vitamin linked to preventing chronic inflammation), lutein, carotenoids, and zeaxanthin (which are all linked to lowering inflammation and supporting eye health), and folate (a B vitamin important for brain health) (1, 2). 

Egg yolks are also one of the few foods that contain vitamin D, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in supporting bone health.

So despite what you may have heard, whole eggs are nutrient powerhouses. They’re packed with vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants. Plus they contain all the essential amino acids your body needs—and in healthy ratios.

Nutritional Value of an Egg

If you're trying to decide which part of the egg to include in your meals, here's a quick comparison of what you'll be getting in both the egg white and the yolk (3)...

Whole Egg

Calories
72
Protein
6 grams
Fat
5 grams
Carbs
less than 1 gram
Choline
31% of the Daily Value (DV)
Selenium
28% of the DV
Vitamin B12
21% of the DV
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
16% of the DV
Vitamin D
6% of the DV
Iron
5% of the DV
Sodium
70 mg

*Contains all 9 essential amino acids

Egg Yolk

Egg yolks contain the majority of the egg’s vitamin B, iron, vitamin D, and antioxidant content.

Calories
55
Protein
2.7 grams
Fat
4.5 grams
Carbs
less than 1 gram
Choline
31% of the Daily Value (DV)
Selenium
20% of the DV
Vitamin B12
21% of the DV
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
5% of the DV
Vitamin D
5% of the DV
Sodium
8 mg

*Contains all 9 essential amino acids

Egg White

Egg whites contain most of the egg’s protein content (4).

Calories
18
Protein
4 grams
Fat
0 grams
Carbs
less than 1 gram
Choline
0% of the Daily Value (DV)
Selenium
8% of the DV
Vitamin B12
0% of the DV
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
11% of the DV
Vitamin D
0% of the DV
Sodium
55 mg

Cracking the Eggs & Cholesterol Myth

“One of the biggest fears for people is that eggs are too high in cholesterol,” says registered dietitian and certified personal trainer Jesse Feder.

This is a common misunderstanding, explains Feder, but the truth is that our bodies actually respond well to the dietary cholesterol found in eggs (5, 6)…

So much so that several different studies have concluded that eating your favorite brunch staple is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).

In fact, eating eggs might even lower your heart health risks! A study released earlier this year found that eating five or more eggs each week is linked to improvements in certain risk factors of cardiovascular disease (12). After several years of regularly eating eggs, study participants even had lower systolic blood pressure.

Another study, published in 2022, found that eating one to six eggs per week was associated with a 60% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The study also found that upping the ante to four to seven eggs per week lowers the risk even more, by a whopping 75% (13).

That’s right: eggs are fantastic for you! No matter what misinformation Twitter tries to throw at you. And they’re a great addition to a heart-healthy diet (13).

The key is to make sure that the ways you’re eating and preparing your eggs don’t add unhealthy ingredients into the mix. “[Eggs] can become unhealthy if you start to cook them in a lot of oil and add in bacon, cheese, sausage, and other foods that are high in unhealthy fats,” Feder says. 

However, there are some people, known as “hyper responders,” whose bodies do experience a small increase in LDL after eating foods high in cholesterol, but even for them, their ratio of LDL to HDL (“good” cholesterol) stays consistent (14). Studies have not found that hyper responders see an increased risk of heart disease from dietary cholesterol (15).

5 Ways to Enjoy Eggs

One of the best things about eggs is how versatile they are! Here are some of the best ways to prepare them…

1. Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled eggs are beaten and then stirred in a hot pan until they reach that famous breakfast-ready consistency. You can add veggies to the scramble for an extra nutrient boost.

2. Fried Eggs

Fried eggs are prepared by being cracked into a hot pan that includes cooking oil. Depending on how you want the yolk cooked, you can fry an egg sunny side up, over easy, over medium, or over hard.

3. Hard-Boiled Eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a go-to healthy snack. They’re created by cooking an egg, in its shell, in a pot of boiling water.

4. Poached Eggs

Poached eggs, a delicious runny-yolk brunch staple, are cracked into simmering water.

5. Baked Eggs

Baked eggs are cooked in the oven until they are set. You can even bake them in half of an avocado for an added boost of healthy fats.

The Bottom Line

When you’re looking in the fridge for a healthy breakfast to start your day, remember that eggs are not the boogeyman! Eating an egg each day can supercharge your diet with extra vitamins, protein, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Don’t be afraid to add this “egg”cellent superfood to your breakfast plate.

If you’re interested in learning more about what foods you should and shouldn’t eat, check out the NativeBody Reset Program. It’s a free 30 day program designed by Doctor of Physical Therapy, Chad Walding, to restore your energy, metabolism, and overall health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! Eggs are a healthy source of protein and contain less than a gram of carbs (4). Be sure to eat the whole egg, not just egg whites, so you don’t miss out on the nutrients in the yolk!

Claire Hannum
Article by

Claire Hannum

Claire Hannum is a New York City-based writer, editor, wellness seeker, and reiki practitioner. Her writing has appeared in Self, Health, Prevention, and over a dozen other publications.

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    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

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