Old school thinking on egg yolks was that its cholesterol content was too high to consume on the regular, but Dr Joanna McMillan told Women’s Health that experts have slowly changed their tune as science has advanced.
“The egg yolk contains cholesterol and in the early days of understanding the links between blood cholesterol, diet and heart disease, it was thought prudent to limit dietary cholesterol,” Dr Joanna says.
“The yolk also contains some fat and about half of that fat is saturated fat, and in the era of favouring all things low fat this was not considered good. The combination of these two factors put eggs on the list of foods advised to be limited.”
Dr Joanna says that our understanding of dietary influences on blood cholesterol levels has since progressed significantly.
“Dietary cholesterol in fact has almost no effect on blood cholesterol in most people. We make cholesterol in the liver and this is influenced more by the types of fat in your diet, with almost no effect from cholesterol we obtain from our food.”
And as Keto fans would know, different diets have come in and out of fashion with low fat options moving out of favour.
“As we recognise that the quality of the fat is now known to be much more important as well as the overall quality of the food. A high fat junk food is not the same as a whole natural food that contains some fat.”
Studies have shown that eggs are a great source healthy fats including the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats.
“Eggs are an excellent source of protein, 11 vitamins and minerals, the long chain omega-3 fats we know to be essential for good health, and the yellow colour of the yolk comes from a group of compounds called carotenoids that are beneficial for eye health,” Dr Joanna says.
“Studies have also shown that when people eat eggs for breakfast they tend to feel fuller and more satisfied, helping them to eat less and eat better for the rest of the day.”
So if you’re sticking with the white stuff because you think you’re making a healthier choice?
“Absolutely not!” says Dr Joanna.
“If you throw away the yolk you are throwing away all of the nutrition bar the protein. The vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and omega-3 fats are all found in the yolk. Not to mention the flavour – an egg white omelette is really pretty bland!”
But there are some caveats.
“Of course it matters what you eat your eggs with. Frying them in refined oil and serving with white bread and bacon is not the way to go! Eating your eggs with plenty of plant foods such as mushrooms, spinach, avocado, tomato, asparagus or rocket and serving with wholegrain toast is a super healthy meal delivering loads of benefits beyond just the eggs.”
Dr Joanna says to stick to one egg a day or two to three egg based meals a week.