Shayna Schmidt | March 7, 2018

We’re all familiar with the world's biggest scientific mystery: did the chicken come first, or the egg?  Many of us are probably guilty of spending a great deal of time researching the subject. But the most relevant question at the moment actually is: are egg yolks bad for our health?

It's general knowledge that eggs are powerhouses in the world of nutrition. However, for awhile egg yolks themselves didn't quite hold the same position. In fact, many still believe that egg yolks can increase the risk of heart disease, for example.

So what do you think? Are egg yolks good or bad for you? In this post we will consider both sides of the spectrum.

Sunny side

To the surprise of some, egg yolks have an abundance of benefits. They are so full of important nutrients, especially if they are from free-range eggs. Whole eggs are a nearly perfect food, with almost every essential vitamin and mineral our bodies need to function. A whole egg is one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D and contains 7 grams of protein. Whole eggs are also full of omega-3 fatty acids and deliver many of the B vitamins and nutrients — B6, B12, riboflavin, folate, and choline — that, in fact, are believed to help prevent heart disease.

Choline is an important nutritional component that helps the liver to function properly and is also a brain booster. Choline helps maximize the health of our brain, aids in memory retention, and helps the body maintain a healthy metabolism. 

Our eyes can also benefit from eating egg yolks thanks to antioxidants such as Zeaxanthin (which provides that beautiful yellow/orange hue!) and Lutein. 

Zeaxanthin and Lutein work strongly together and act as an eye filter to help prevent damage from ultraviolet radiation caused by the sun. Think of them as eye soldiers, protecting against macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness.

L-arginine, an amino acid found in eggs, is critical to the body's production of protein and the release of growth hormones. Another amino acid found in eggs, leucine, also helps the body produce growth hormones as well as regulate blood sugar levels. The yolk itself contains most of these vitamins and minerals, plus half of its protein. 

When we shed the sunny side of our eggs, we are missing out on a lot of vitamins and minerals.  If you need more convincing, here’s a list of some of the nutrients the golden yolks contain:

  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin D
  • Biotin
  • Choline

Flip side

Although there are plenty of reasons to eat egg yolks, it is true that they are the component that carries the fat and the saturated fat and that brings in the cholesterol. 

An egg yolk contains about 185 milligrams of cholesterol. For a healthy person, the daily recommended cholesterol intake is approximately 300 milligrams, so that’s undeniably quite a large chunk of our suggested intake. However, it's important to note the difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Years ago, when scientists learned that high blood cholesterol was associated with heart disease, foods high in cholesterol were thought to be the leading cause of unhealthy blood cholesterol. Now, 25 years later, scientists have come to the conclusion that cholesterol in food is not the true bad guy: trans fats have a much greater effect on blood cholesterol. 

One whole egg contains five grams of fat, two grams of which are saturated fat. It’s no secret that consuming too much saturated fat is not ideal and may increase the risk of heart disease. 

Another risk that is sometimes associated with eating egg yolks is related to Type 2 Diabetes. Some studies have shown a link between egg yolks and this health condition, particularly when the participants were already genetically susceptible to it.

Everybody is different, so talking to your doctor about what's best for your body is recommended.

The bottom line is, when consumed properly along with a healthy lifestyle and so long as you haven’t been advised otherwise by your doctor, you can enjoy the many nutritional benefits of a whole egg. So, yes, you can have an egg and eat the yolk too! But science has also shed light on the potential risks of consuming “too much of a good thing.”  Moderation is key, along with being well-educated on the pros and cons. 

The Livekick team encourages you to visit with your doctor if you feel concerned whether or not your body is sensitive to certain foods, and to speak to your trainer about proper portion sizes for you.