If you are as old as I am, you may remember the “incredible, Edible Egg” ads created by the American Egg Board in 1975. While one can’t necessarily believe anything in a marketing campaign, in this case they were so right. Eggs are incredible but they have led a hard life in the last 25 -30 years.
Over many years the government and medical science tried to prove that dietary cholesterol was the bad guy in our heart disease epidemic. In 2015 the government finally gave up the ghost, conceding that dietary cholesterol has minimal impact on overall cholesterol in the body, thus removing dietary cholesterol as a ”nutrient of concern.”
So now the incredibleness of eggs can once again be seriously considered. There are folks who just eat the white, others just the yolk. Let’s see if that matters.
The story of the chicken egg
The potential chicken inside that egg shell won’t become reality if the egg had not been fertilized. Just like people, ½ of the DNA in a chicken comes from the hen and ½ from the rooster. No rooster, no baby chick.
But just in case, every one of the eggs created in the hen is equipped with everything it needs (except the sperm) to become a baby chick. Everything means all of the protein, fat, and carbohydrates within which reside all the required vitamins, minerals, amino and fatty acids. .
This is a special deal for birds because when a human egg is fertilized the fetus requires the mother to deliver all of the necessary components and nutrients until birth. Mother hens don’t have to worry about that. Of course that means that a mother’s nutrient deficient diet does not bode well for the baby but that is another story.
Anyway the egg contains everything required to make a viable chicken. And when you eat an egg you may be eating the most complete source of nutrients possible in a single food. But those nutrients are not evenly distributed across the white and the yolk.
In his 2016 updated article, The Incredible Edible Egg YolK , Dr. Chris Masterjohn provides a complete story about how the nutrients in the egg are distributed across the white and yolk. That is the important information for those who choose not to eat the yolk.
Nutrients in the egg yolk and white
Here are the high points as extracted from Dr. Masterjohn’s work..
- “Eggs yolk contain virtually all of the vitamins A,D,E,K and B6 and virtually all of the choline, biotin, iron, zinc, and essential fatty acids.” Even though you may not know what all those are, trust me. They would not be there if they weren’t important to the chicken (and to you.)
- “The yolk also contains more than 90% of the calcium, phosphorus, and folate and over 80% of the panthothenic acid.”
- “The white contains about three-quarters of the potassium, over 80% of the sodium, and 80% of the magnesium.”
So what did we learn? While the white is obviously important, we miss the vast majority of nutrient potential by excluding the egg yolk. And three of those nutrients are particularly important to a human’s health.
- Vitamin K2 is so important for heart and bone health. Vitamin K2 helps keep calcium where it usually belongs, in your bones and teeth. Misplacement of calcium contributes to kidney stones and, most importantly, calcification in our blood vessels. “Vitamin K2 is the single most important nutrient that prevents our arteries from accumulating these calcium deposits.”
- Choline is the “single most important nutrient needed to protect against fatty liver disease.” Fatty liver disease is pretty epidemic and at the heart of massive chronic health problems. Egg yolks are “unparalleled in their supply of choline.”
- “Biotin supports our cell membranes. Deficiency produces mental health problems –– and defects of the skin, hair and nails.”
So eat the whole egg. They are incredibly nutritious.