Healthy Eating

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Avoid The Egg Yolk

Plus four delicious ways to include eggs in a healthy eating plan.

By: Lauren Manaker MS, RDN, LD, CLEC

From enjoying a breakfast scramble to slurping up a satisfying soup with a poached egg on top, there is nothing quite like enjoying a versatile, delicious, and economical egg. But unfortunately, eggs, or rather egg yolks, have gotten a bad rap thanks to concerns surrounding their natural cholesterol and fat levels. 

But there are some egg yolk benefits that are hard to beat, especially if you are trying to support your health in a natural way. At the end of the day, there are way too many nutrients that egg yolks offer to consider skipping them altogether. Here’s why. 

RELATED: 10 High Protein Meal Ideas Using Leftover Eggs

Why Egg Yolks Get a Bad Rap 

Egg yolks are the yellow part of the egg that is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The yolk is also where the cholesterol is found. In the past, it was believed that eating dietary cholesterol results in elevated cholesterol levels, and therefore eating yolks, which come in at around 200 milligrams of cholesterol depending on the size of the egg, was avoided like the plague. 

However, as more data has emerged, we now know that dietary cholesterol is not the major culprit of elevated LDL and HDL cholesterol that we once viewed it to be.

Egg Yolk vs. Egg Whites

When you crack open an egg, you will find two parts — the yolk and the white. The yolk has a yellowish hue, and the egg white is clear and then turns white when it is cooked.

Both parts of the egg offer up some health benefits, although the benefits do vary. Egg yolks contain approximately 55 calories per egg, along with 2.5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. Egg whites contain approximately 20 calories per egg, along with 3.5 grams of protein. The white of the egg is fat-free. 

Egg Yolk Benefits 

You may be tempted to skip the yolk, especially when you notice that this is the portion that houses the most calories and fat. But you should think twice before you go for that egg white omelet for a number of reasons. 

Brain Support

Egg yolks are one of the best sources of choline, a b-vitamin that supports brain health and may even play a role in reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Unfortunately, approximately 90% of Americans are deficient in this key nutrient, making eating the yolk super-appealing. 

Eye Health

Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that need to be on your radar — especially if you spend a lot of time staring at screens. Over time, the blue light that is emitted from our tablets, computers, and TVs can cause damage to our eyes. The good news is that taking in enough lutein and zeaxanthin can help protect the eye from potential damage caused by this harmful light.

Egg yolks are a lutein and zeaxanthin powerhouse, and eating them can help keep your peepers healthy. Bonus? Lutein may support brain health along with the choline that the yolk provides too. 

Muscle Growth 

We all know that we need protein to fuel our muscles, and egg yolks are chock-full of high-quality protein and contain all of the essential amino acids that our bodies need. 

RELATED: The Best Foods to Feed Your Muscles After Strength Training 

Immune Support

The yolk is like a natural multivitamin for your body. And along with yolks supplying a slew of nutrients like iodine and vitamin A, it is one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D. 

Vitamin D plays a key role in many functions in our bodies, including supporting a healthy immune system. Our bodies can naturally produce vitamin D through our skin when it is exposed to the sun’s rays. But since many of us are not sitting out in the sun every day, we run the risk of being deficient in this key nutrient. And eating an egg yolk or two can help you meet your needs. 

How Many Eggs Per Day?

We know that egg yolks can have a place in a healthy diet. But sometimes too much of a good thing can be, well, not so great. 

The American Heart Association recommends sticking to one egg a day. This amount does not appear to increase the risk of experiencing any negative heart-health outcomes. 

And you can certainly “save up” your quota and enjoy two eggs one day as long as you skip your allotted egg the next day.  

4 Delicious Ways to Enjoy Eggs

If you are trying to include eggs in your diet, think beyond the old-school scramble. While it is true that eggs are the quintessential breakfast food that pairs perfectly with a strip of bacon and a slice of toast, there are some scrumptious and out-of-the-box ideas that go beyond the breakfast table.

#1 Top Your Salad with Hard-Boiled Eggs

Instead of reaching for ho-hum grilled chicken breast as a salad topping, try adding some peeled and sliced hard-boiled eggs to your greens. It is a simple and quick way to add some high-quality protein to your meal that also adds some unique flavor to boot. 

#2 Finish Off Your Soup With a Poached Egg

A cozy bowl of soup topped with a poached egg can be a super-satisfying meal that is jam-packed with nutrition. Bonus? It’s a quick way to add some protein to any soup that may have been otherwise low in protein.

#3 Make a Scrambled Egg Burrito 

Burritos are typically made with proteins like beans, chicken, or beef. But there is no reason why you can’t add some scrambled eggs to a burrito for a satisfying and inexpensive on-the-go option. Fill a tortilla with eggs, salsa, refried beans, and avocado for a balanced and nutritious meal. 

#4 Top Your Burger With an Egg

Skip the slice of cheese and top your burger with a fried egg instead. It will add some richness to your sandwich with an extra boost of nutrients and protein too. 

Enjoy The Yolk Along With An Overall Healthy Diet

Despite what the old-school advice may be, egg yolks should not be feared when you are trying to support a healthy lifestyle. The yolk is the nutrition powerhouse of the egg and will fuel your body with nutrients like choline, lutein, and zeaxanthin. 

As long as you stick to the recommendation of limiting your egg consumption to one a day, enjoying them as a protein source for your meals or as a good-for-you snack can be a great addition to an overall healthy lifestyle.