I’ll admit it. In the past (distant past), I was one of those dietitians who suggested to people that they throw out egg yolks. Not anymore.
Substituting two egg whites for one egg yolk in a recipe is a common recommendation for people who are trying to cut down on fat and cholesterol in a recipe. Or, for things like scrambled eggs or a frittata, tossing out one yolk for every two eggs you use is an oft-repeated tip. Now that I’ve come clean (and am no longer in the “no yolk” camp), I’ll tell you why I no longer recommend this practice.
The truth is, I love the taste of egg yolks. When I make hard boiled eggs, I never ditch the yolks, though I have done so in the past when making deviled eggs. Frankly, it pains me to waste food, so the suggestion that people feed egg yolks to the garbage disposal instead of consuming them never really sat right with me from an economic view. (And yes, I know that eggs are an inexpensive food—especially so when you consider the quality of protein and overall nutrient content they provide.) Still, I pride myself on not wasting food in general. But, I digress…
So, why am I now pro-yolk? Well, nutritionally, the yolk is no joke. While it’s true that most of the 70 calories and roughly 5g of fat provided by a whole egg are contained in the yolk, that doesn’t sway me, because the fact is that most of the nutrients are contained in the yolk as well. In fact, the yolk of an egg provides 100% of the egg’s supply of choline, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, vitamin E and zinc! And some of these nutrients, such as choline and vitamin D are lacking in many peoples’ diets. One egg provides about 27% of the Daily Value for choline, making it an excellent source of this important B vitamin. The Egg Nutrition Center has a great article on, well, egg nutrition—specifically what’s in an egg yolk. You can find it here.
Of course, going overboard on any food is not a smart nutrition move. And yes, egg yolks do contain a hefty dose of cholesterol. That said, if you’re following a cholesterol-controlled regimen, stick with your doc’s orders. These days, even the American Heart Association cholesterol guidelines allow for 1 egg per day. Incidentally, according to recent research from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large egg has less cholesterol than previously thought: about 185 milligrams of cholesterol, down from 215 milligrams.
And so, go ahead and get crackin’ (sorry, I had to do it). And enjoy the yolks right along with the whites of your eggs. Oh, and if for some reason you arenot making a slow-cooked egg dish, check out the cool little Egg Timer app for iPhone and Android. Get it free on iTunes here.
–Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD