Myth: Avoid Egg Yolks
FACT: Egg yolks are extremely healthy and shouldn't be avoided!
For years, egg yolks have been avoided for their high cholesterol and fat content. But the truth is, egg yolks are full of vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. Below are some of the ones found in eggs and how they benefit you!
Vitamin A- is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for normal vision, the immune system, and reproduction. Vitamin A also plays a pivotal role in the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Vitamin D- the "sunny" vitamin can be obtained from being in the sun, but it's not always realistic due to lifestyle, job, climate etc. Vitamin D is also a fat-soluble vitamin that is not often found in many foods. It helps the body absorb calcium and build bone. Maintaining a normal vitamin D level is essential for children to avoid softening of bones, called Rickets. Low levels in adults can cause fragile bones in adults called osteomalacia.
Biotin- is a B vitamin that aids in metabolizing fats and carbohydrates. Biotin has been linked to healthy hair, nails, and a healthy nervous system. Having low amounts of Biotin can disrupt hormone function which is why it can cause some serious skin conditions like rashes, acne, and dermatitis. If the body isn't properly nourished in the inside, abnormalities within the nervous system can cause skin issues on the outside of the body.
Choline- is a B vitamin that plays many different roles in the body. One major role is the synthesis of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter, that helps regulate memory, mood, muscle control, and other brain and nervous system functions
Protein- carries many different functions in the body. The body uses protein to help build and repair tissues, like muscle. Amino acids are building blocks of protein which help build and maintain muscle. Hair and nails are mostly made of protein, thus the body uses protein to maintain healthy hair and nails. The body also requires protein to create hormones and enzymes.
Antioxidants- Lutein and zeaxanthin are antioxidants found in eggs that are used by the eyes and sometimes referred to as the "eye vitamins". They block the blue light from reaching the retina, which reduces your chances of developing light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration. They can also help prevent other eye issues like cataracts and retinitis pigmentosa.
But, What About the Cholesterol?
Most of us know that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America and abnormal blood cholesterol is a leading cause of heart disease. But most of us don't know that cholesterol is an essential part of our existence and cholesterol we eat does little to affect our cholesterol levels.
Our cells require cholesterol for its shape. The cell membrane is the outer part of our cells and its partly made up of cholesterol. Hormones like testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone require cholesterol molecules for their creation. The problems with cholesterol stem from abnormal ratios of cholesterol in the body. Having too high LDL (the bad kind) and too low levels of HDL (the good kind) can cause problems. Your genes are a major indicator of cholesterol levels, the other indicator is nutrition.
We were always told by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) published every 5 years by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services to limit cholesterol consumption to 300mg per day. Their panel of nutrition scientists presumed that the cholesterol we ate directly affected the cholesterol in our blood (makes sense).
Not So Fast.. In fact, in 2015, the DGA stated that cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern. This surprised many Americans when it was first released, but nutrition scientists have known this for years. Truth is, for most people, the cholesterol we eat has little to no impact on our overall blood cholesterol levels*. Many countries have been ahead of us on this and have already removed cholesterol as a nutrient of concern years before us.
Although eating cholesterol doesn't affect blood cholesterol levels, eating saturated and trans fat does. Yes, cholesterol and saturated fats are two different things. Eggs, for example, are high in cholesterol but low in saturated fat. The DGA does make recommendations on limiting the amount of saturated fat in the diet (topic for another blog?).
Bottom line: If you like eggs, add them into your diet for outstanding vitamin, mineral, protein, and free radical benefits and don't worry about the amount of cholesterol they contain.
*If you have high cholesterol or have a family history of high cholesterol you should still monitor your cholesterol intake. See your doctor or seek out a Registered Dietitian for more help and information.
Farrell, Steve (2017). Dietary Cholesterol is no longer a Concern? Retrieved from https://www.cooperinstitute.org/2017/02/23/dietary-cholesterol-is-no-longer-a-concern
Institute of Medicine (US) Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes and its Panel on Folate, Other B Vitamins, and Choline. Dietary Reference Intakes for Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1998. 2, The B Vitamins and Choline: Overview and Methods. Available from:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.