Whole eggs and egg yolks are often left off of the shopping list of those with an elevated cholesterol level. Is eating egg yolks really unhealthy?
A topic that’s been widely debated from a health standpoint is whether or not eating egg yolk is unhealthy. Up until recently, people who were diagnosed with heart disease or had an elevated cholesterol level were urged to avoid eating egg yolk due to their high cholesterol content. This view has changed somewhat as more news has come out about the health benefits of eggs. Is eating egg yolk unhealthy?
How Much Cholesterol?
When compared to other foods, eggs yolks are relatively high in cholesterol with a medium egg having about 190 milligrams of cholesterol. Although limiting cholesterol in the diet is important, the real villains when it comes to heart health appear to be saturated fats and trans fats. These two components account for much of the diet related elevation in cholesterol levels, although consuming too many foods high in cholesterol also has its effect. For this reason, the American Heart Association recommends keeping dietary cholesterol intake below 300 milligrams per day and under 200 milligrams for those with a history of heart disease. It’s obvious if you want to stay within these guidelines you shouldn’t eat egg yolk every day.
What Are the Positives?
On the positive side, egg yolks have positive health benefits. When you look at the egg as a whole, eggs yolks contain all of the essential fatty acids found in the egg, including the important omega-3 fats. They also contain more than eighty percent of the vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium, folate, selenium, vitamins A and E, and the B vitamins. When eating egg yolks or the whole egg you’re getting valuable nutrients that are absent from egg substitutes and egg white products. Egg yolks are also a good source of carotenoids which help to protect against macular degeneration of the eye as well as choline which is important for brain health.
Should You Eat Egg Yolk?
If you don’t have a history of elevated cholesterol, it probably won’t hurt to eat one or two egg yolks or whole eggs on a daily basis. If you have an elevated cholesterol level or a history of heart disease, it’s best to avoid eating egg yolk more than two to three times a week and use egg substitute on alternate days. It’s even more important to reduce consumption of high fat and processed foods that contain hidden saturated fats if you’re concerned about heart health. Those hidden fats are much more likely to adversely affect cholesterol levels than eating a few egg yolks. One word of warning. Never eat egg yolk raw since they can be a source for Salmonella food poisoning; but keep eating eggs in moderation.