The Real Reason You Should Stop Eating Just The Egg Whites

NPR suggests the link between poor health and eggs first came about in the late 1970s when it became the topic of conversation in Congress. Back then, the economy was doing well, but many Americans were dying younger than expected. Scientists began to question the diet's relationship to heart disease. They pointed to the high levels of saturated fat present in foods such as eggs and meat, which they believed could raise LDL cholesterol levels (the bad kind). This hearing led to the first set of dietary guidelines put out to advise citizens by the U.S. government.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, it was originally inferred that since the cholesterol in eggs comes from the yolks, and high cholesterol levels lead to cardiovascular disease, eating egg yolks was unhealthy — which lead a lot of people to just eating egg whites. Scientists now understand that cholesterol from food is not the same as the cholesterol in our bodies. This cholesterol comes from the liver and is produced primarily by saturated and trans fats, which egg yolks have very little of. 

Scientists agree that, for a reasonably healthy adult, one egg a day will not increase the risk of heart disease. They do caution that if you have diabetes, are at high risk for heart disease, or already have heart disease, you should not consume more than three eggs per week. They claim what you eat with your egg is more important the egg itself. Foods like bacon, cheese, and butter are far worse for your cholesterol levels than eggs.

Egg yolks can actually be good for you

Health even claims that eggs can be good for your cholesterol levels, because they can raise your levels of HDL cholesterol (this is the good kind). Egg yolks are also high in unsaturated fats and vitamin E, which they state Americans, in general, get too little of. They assert the biggest reason to eat the yolk, however, is the presence of carotenoids. Carotenoids are the naturally occurring nutrients that make egg yolks yellow. According to Time, these nutrients support eye and brain health. They also state that the yolk contains most of the iron, folate, and other vitamins that make eggs healthy. 

While Health admits you can find carotenoids in other places, they need to be eaten with fat for the body to fully absorb them, which makes a whole egg the perfect vehicle to get the most out of your carotenoid consumption. Recently, the scientists who discovered this information about carotenoid absorption found that the same holds true for vitamin E, which you'll recall is also present in egg yolks. They recommend eating whole eggs with a raw vegetable salad for a healthy meal that maximizes your vitamin and nutrient intake.