Did you know that eggs are a complete food?
Except for carbs and vitamin C, they contain almost all the nutrients your body needs.
But by avoiding the yolk, you strip away a lot of the egg’s nutrient content.
In fact, egg whites and whole eggs are different foods altogether.
This article looks into egg white nutrition – and explains the difference between whole eggs and egg whites.
Egg White Nutrition – How it Compares to Whole Eggs
Egg white is a clear liquid that surrounds the yolk.
In fertilized eggs, egg whites serve as a protection for the growing chicken, along with providing it with nutrients.
In terms of their structure, egg whites are 10% protein and 90% water.
If you just eat the egg white and throw the yolk, the nutrient content of your food significantly changes.
Here’s a comparison between the egg white and whole egg nutrition (1):
Egg white nutrition compared to whole egg nutrition.
As you can see, the egg white has fewer calories. But it also lacks essential nutrients such as vitamin B12 and selenium.
By contrast, a whole egg has a much richer nutrient profile with plenty of vitamin B12 and selenium. It also has a healthy amount of cholesterol (more on that in a second) and other fatty acids.
Complete Protein in Egg Whites
If you’ve been wondering do egg whites have protein, the answer is yes.
Egg whites have a complete amino acid profile which means your body can easily digest proteins found in the egg white. (2)
More Fat-Soluble Nutrients in Yolks
Egg yolks, on the other hand, contain vitamin E, a nutrient that many people get too little of.
Not only that, egg yolks are rich in carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin.
These two work in concert to protect your eyesight and reduce inflammation.
So, while egg whites might be a good choice if you’re on a calorie-restriction diet, they also have a massive downside – a lack of important nutrients.
Key point: While egg whites might be a good choice for people on a calorie-restrictive diet, they are nutritionally inferior to whole eggs. Egg yolks have much more B vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Are Egg Whites Healthy?
To answer the question are egg whites healthy, we have to consider what healthy really means here.
Are there any risks to eating egg whites?
Do they somehow improve your health?
Or do they perhaps provide your body with nutrients it needs?
The thing with egg whites is this: they are healthy in the sense that they provide you with essential amino acids.
They are also a safe food to consume, unless you eat them raw, which increases the risk of food poisoning.
So yes, you could say egg whites are healthy.
But are they healthier than whole eggs?
For most people, the answer is no.
Let me show you why:
Is Cholesterol Really Bad For You?
Eggs yolks have been demonized for a long time.
It was long thought that since they contain cholesterol, egg yolks will raise your bad LDL cholesterol levels and subsequently increase the risk of heart disease.
But modern science has proven that these claims are wrong. (3, 4)
Not only does dietary cholesterol have little-to-no effect on your body’s internal cholesterol production. The cholesterol from eggs is actually healthy and is shown to raise your “good” HDL cholesterol levels. (3, 4)
In other words, egg yolks are safe and healthy for most people.
But it gets even more interesting.
Studies found that eating whole eggs dramatically increases the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients in eggs. (5)
For example, you should eat carotenoids with fats for your body to absorb them. And whole eggs have it all.
Eat egg yolks, and you’ll get more essential nutrients – not just from the egg itself, but also from other food you eat eggs with.
Who’s at Risk From Eating Egg Yolks?
Although dietary cholesterol is safe for most people and doesn’t raise their blood cholesterol levels. There is a tiny fraction of the population that responds to dietary cholesterol.
Their cholesterol levels will raise slightly after eating foods that contain this nutrient. (6)
These people have certain gene predispositions that make their bodies produce higher levels of cholesterol than normal. (7)
For them, eating egg whites instead of whole eggs might be a better idea.
Risks of Eating Egg Whites
Eating egg whites, or even whole eggs for that matter, is safe in most cases.
But there are potential risks:
Food Contamination and Poisoning
Do you know those bodybuilders that like to gulp raw egg whites?
While this might help you pack on muscle, it’s possible to contract salmonella if you ingest a contaminated raw egg.
Salmonella is a bacteria that sometimes sneaks into eggs or eggshells. It can wreak havoc on your health.
Luckily, cooking your egg whites until they are solid will reduce the risk of salmonella to a minimum. (8)
Most people have no issues with eating eggs.
However, it’s possible to have egg allergies, especially when it comes to children. (9)
Still, most children outgrow this condition by the time they reach puberty – or sooner.
But why are some of these people allergic to eggs in the first place?
The answer lies in their immune system, which recognizes the protein particles from eggs as harmful, resulting in an immune reaction. (10)
The symptoms can range from mild rash and runny nose to severe diarrhea, digestive pain, and vomiting.
In extremely rare cases, eating eggs if you’re allergic can cause anaphylactic shock.
This is a potentially fatal condition where a person’s throat and face swells, which can block air pathways. (11)
Reduced Biotin Absorption
Biotin, also called vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin which plays a role in your body’s energy metabolism. (12)
While eggs contain a good amount of biotin, eating them raw can greatly reduce the nutrient’s absorption.
That’s because raw eggs contain avidin.
Avidin is a protein that binds to biotin and blocks it from absorbing in your body.
However, once you cook the egg, avidin no longer has the same effect. Enabling you to fully utilize biotin from the egg.
Is it healthy to eat egg white everyday?
Unless you’re allergic to egg whites, it’s perfectly safe and healthy to consume them every day. The egg white contains complete amino acids which are essential for your health.
Are egg whites vegan?
No – egg whites are not vegan as they come from animals.
Can you eat eggs if you have diarrhea?
Eating eggs when you have diarrhea doesn’t cause issues, unless the egg you ate is contaminated with Salmonella. This is a bacteria that can cause further digestive and health complications.
Do egg whites have cholesterol?
Egg whites do not contain any cholesterol.
Are eggs poultry?
Eggs don’t belong exclusively to the poultry food category. They fall under the meat, fish, eggs, and poultry category. Eggs are considered animal products.
Can eggs cause acne?
The evidence on eggs causing acne is slim. In fact, pasture-raised, organic eggs contain nutrients that are essential for healthy skin – and work to prevent acne.
Can eggs cause acid reflux?
It’s possible for people who are allergic or sensitive to eggs to experience acid reflux from eating this food. That said, the chance of this occurring is extremely slim, as eggs are well-tolerated by most people.
Will eggs help you lose weight?
Eggs alone won’t make you magically lose weight, however, combined with a balanced and healthy meal plan, they can have a positive impact on your weight loss. Eggs contain healthy nutrients and essential amino acids which contribute to healthy body composition, which translates to less body fat and more lean muscle mass.
Egg white nutrition is completely different from the nutrient profile of whole eggs.
Egg whites are packed with protein and are low in calories.
This makes them a favorite choice amongst people who’re on a calorie-restricted diet.
But for most people, there’s no benefit to throwing out the yolk, as this is where most of the egg’s nutrients hide, including essential vitamins and minerals.
Saturated fat and cholesterol found in eggs have long been demonized by media.
For many years, it was thought that eating whole eggs can raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease.
Luckily, science has proven that these claims are far from true.
For most people, dietary cholesterol from eggs doesn’t affect levels of cholesterol in the body.
Not only that, studies showed that consuming eggs is actually healthy and can raise “good” HDL cholesterol levels, while keeping triglycerides at normal levels.
Only a small fraction of people have a genetic predisposition that makes their bodies produce more cholesterol. Unless you belong to this group, consuming whole eggs is a perfectly healthy and safe choice.
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Food Composition Databases. (source)
Amino acid composition of hen's egg. (source)
Egg Consumption and Human Cardio-Metabolic Health in People with and without Diabetes. (source)
Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. (source)
Consuming eggs with raw vegetables increases nutritive value. (source)
Effects of eggs on plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. (source)
Familial Hypercholesterolemia: Genes and Beyond. (source)
Salmonella Typhimurium and Outbreaks of Egg-Associated Disease in Australia, 2001 to 2011. (source)
Current understanding of egg allergy. (source)
Cracking the egg: An insight into egg hypersensitivity. (source)
Egg allergy: an update. (source)
Structure and function of biotin-dependent carboxylases. (source)