Why You Should Eat More Egg Yolks

Posted on 31. Aug, 2012 by in What to Eat

“Egg Yolks As Dan­ger­ous As Smok­ing, Experts Say!”

That was a recent head­line on the Huff­in­g­ton Post Canada web­site and repeated all over news sta­tions and the inter­net ear­lier this month.  The arti­cle was in sum­mary of a recent study per­formed at the Lon­don Health Sci­ences Centre’s Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal where elderly patients were asked to think back and remem­ber their life­long egg con­sump­tion history.

This sounds like an extremely accu­rate way to per­form a study by the way.  I can’t even remem­ber how many eggs I ate last week, but I am sure the peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the study are smarter than me.  I bet they had no prob­lem remem­ber­ing how many eggs they ate for the past 20 years.  We have men­tioned in the past how many stud­ies have huge flaws and biases and this one is no dif­fer­ent.  For a com­plete break­down of where this study went wrong, I rec­om­mend read­ing Mark Sisson’s recent post on Marks Daily Apple.

Today’s post is instead about rebuild­ing the con­fi­dence of the poor egg yolk.  For decades it has been beaten down by the media and so-called health experts, but unright­fully so.

Not only are egg yolks not as dan­ger­ous as cig­a­rettes, but they are among the health­i­est foods we can put in our bod­ies.  Here’s why.


The Nutri­tional Ben­e­fits of Egg Yolks

If you look up the nutri­tion facts for egg yolks in the USDA nutri­ent data­base, which I pro­vided in the chart below, it reads more like a mul­ti­vi­t­a­min than a nor­mal piece of food.  For instance, just 3 egg yolks, not includ­ing the whites, pro­vides over 50% of your daily require­ment for Vit­a­min D and Sele­nium, over 40% of Vit­a­min B12, Over 25% of Vit­a­min B5 and Phos­pho­rous, and over 15% of Iron, Folate, Vit­a­min A, Vit­a­min B6, and Vit­a­min B2.  It also pro­vides 8 grams of pro­tein and 7% of your daily omega 3 fats.  They also con­tain the carotenoids lutein and zeax­an­thin, which are antiox­i­dants that are believed to help pre­vent against degen­er­a­tion and chronic disease.

Egg yolks are so nutri­tious, that many doc­tors rec­om­mend using them to help wean infants off of breast milk.  They are one of the few foods that con­tain high lev­els of Iron and DHA, two nutri­tional fac­tors that are extremely impor­tant for devel­op­ing infants.


Egg Yolks Vs Egg Whites

Some­where in our recent his­tory, between egg-white-guzzling body­builders and cholesterol-fearing doc­tors, it became cool to throw away egg yolks.  Let me just be clear on some­thing, egg white omelets are not cool!  Don’t even pre­tend that you like the taste of them!  And if your egg whites come from a car­ton, those are even less cool.

If you should be throw­ing away any part of the egg, it should be the whites, not the yolks (although I don’t rec­om­mend get­ting rid of either).  Pound for pound, the nutri­tion of the yolk is head and shoul­ders above its white coun­ter­part.  Take a look at the chart below which is straight from the USDA Nutri­ent Database.

Sure, egg whites are a great source of pro­tein, mag­ne­sium, potas­sium, and sodium, but which would you rather have, if you had to choose?  Egg yolks are a far bet­ter source of cal­cium, iron, phos­pho­rous, zinc, folate, and vit­a­mins B6, B12, A, E, and D.  Egg yolks are the clear win­ner if you ask me.


Egg Yolks Are Cheap and Delicious!

I hear all the time how peo­ple would love to eat health­ier, but that it’s just too expen­sive.  With eggs though, this just isn’t the case.  You can eas­ily find decent free-range eggs pretty much any­where for under $4 per dozen.  For about $1 per meal, you can get all those great nutri­tional ben­e­fits that I men­tioned ear­lier.  Give me the choice between 3–4 eggs sautéed in Ker­ry­Gold but­ter or a medium sized ham­burger off of the dol­lar menu, and I’m going for the eggs every sin­gle time!  Runny egg yolks mixed with a lit­tle but­ter are liq­uid gold!


But What About Cholesterol?

Of course, the ele­phant in the room.  Most of you already know that egg yolks are loaded with nutri­tion, but what about their high cho­les­terol?  First of all, cho­les­terol, and its con­nec­tion to heart dis­ease is a very com­plex issue, one that def­i­nitely goes way over my head.  If you can han­dle the sci­ence of it all, I rec­om­mend check­ing out 2 more posts on Marks Daily Apple, that give an in-depth look at all things cho­les­terol.  For those of you less science-oriented, here are the basics you need to know.

Cho­les­terol is an essen­tial mol­e­cule for all ani­mal life.  Every cell in our bod­ies has a pro­tec­tive mem­brane that allows for the cell to move and trans­port com­po­nents in and out.  Cho­les­terol is the vital com­po­nent that makes up this mem­brane of each cell.  Cho­les­terol is also very impor­tant for the syn­the­sis of vit­a­mins A, D, E, and K and hor­mones like cor­ti­sol, estro­gen, and testosterone.

Your body nat­u­rally pro­duces and stores way more cho­les­terol than you con­sume through food.  Your body pro­duces between 800 and 1200 mg of cho­les­terol daily and stores between 30,000 and 40,000 mg in the cells at any given time.  By com­par­i­son, an egg yolk con­tains only 184 mg of cho­les­terol.  If the quan­tity of cho­les­terol was really the issue, we should be more con­cerned with the amount of cho­les­terol our body already pro­duces, not the amount we are eat­ing.  Also, your body will self-adjust by pro­duc­ing more cho­les­terol if you con­sume less through food, or by pro­duc­ing less cho­les­terol, if you con­sume more through food.

There are few, if any links, between high cho­les­terol and heart dis­ease.  It’s pretty com­mon knowl­edge that a total cho­les­terol level below 200mg is what every­one should be shoot­ing for.  But this is a myth per­pet­u­ated by the drug com­pa­nies who are try­ing to sell you statin drugs to lower your cho­les­terol.  In many cases, low total cho­les­terol is a big­ger indi­ca­tor of health prob­lems than high total cho­les­terol.   Just take a look at this chart that shows mor­tal­ity rates for coun­tries around the world as com­pared to their aver­age total cho­les­terol lev­els.  The low­est risk group for dying is actu­ally between 200 and 240mg of cho­les­terol.  And the high­est risk group occurs at cho­les­terol lev­els of 170mg and below.   The issue of heart dis­ease likely has a lot to do with over­all inflam­ma­tion in the body, not sim­ply cholesterol.


Clos­ing Thoughts

Trans­fer­ring to a paleo diet is just as much about chang­ing your men­tal out­look as it is about chang­ing the actual foods that you eat.  You have to com­pletely change the way you look at food if you really want to be suc­cess­ful long term.

One of those key dis­tinc­tions is the real­iza­tion that a healthy diet is not about get­ting LESS of every­thing, it’s about get­ting MORE of every­thing.  For decades, we’ve been taught that healthy eat­ing means LESS calo­ries, LESS carbs, LESS fat, LESS sugar.  In the case of egg yolks, it’s always been about LESS cho­les­terol.  But the focus on less is pre­vent­ing us from see­ing what the true pur­pose of food is.

Food is essen­tial to life.  With­out it, we die.

Con­sum­ing a diet focused on real food means MORE nutri­tion, MORE nour­ish­ment, MORE vit­a­mins, MORE min­er­als, MORE energy, MORE strength, MORE power, MORE super­hu­man (not sure that even makes sense, but I think you get the point).  Egg yolks are the per­fect exam­ple of this.  Cho­les­terol is vital to our sur­vival and your body is going to pro­duce lots of it whether you like it or not.  By fear­ing cho­les­terol, you are miss­ing out on one of the cheap­est and health­i­est foods on the entire planet.  Don’t let scary head­lines or pow­er­ful mar­ket­ing cam­paigns alter the way you think about real food.  We have mil­lions of years of human evo­lu­tion to tell us that real foods like egg yolks should not be feared.

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5 Responses to “Why You Should Eat More Egg Yolks”

  1. sudhaker

    10. Jul, 2013

    excel­lent arti­cle should i eat eight whole eggs aday, i m a bodybuilder

    • Tony Frezza

      14. Jul, 2013

      If you are get­ting cage free eggs, pas­tured eggs then heck yes!

  2. Downhomecreator

    16. Jan, 2013

    YES! thank you! i raise geese and their eggs have lovely huge dark yel­low yolks. SO healthy and deli­cious. So absurd to throw this away. 

  3. Guest

    10. Sep, 2012

    egg­cel­lent arcicle!

    • Andrew

      13. Sep, 2012

      LOL! Thank you!!

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