Following suit with my post from last week about the fact that I hate chicken breasts, this week, I'm tackling egg whites, the next big "actually not healthy" food offender.
Egg whites are pretty well known in the fitness and dieting industry because they are basically all protein and no fat (which, as we've discussed before, this "fat-phobic" culture is getting us absolutely nowhere, but I digress).
Eggs are what I call nature's perfect food. The yolk and white act like the ying and yang relationship, as eggs are most powerful when they are eaten whole, not split into parts. Together, the yolk and white of the egg contain a complimentary array of nutrients that are best absorbed when the egg is eaten as it's found in nature.
When we split apart what nature has so carefully crafted we run the risk of missing out on the plethora of nutrients those foods can provide for us, and eggs are no exception to this rule.
Egg yolks are where the nutrients are found, as they contain B vitamins, iodine, sulfur, selenium, zinc, and the fat-soluble nutrients (vitamins A, D, E, and K), among other nutrients. Egg yolks are also an excellent source of biotin and choline, the latter of which is very important during pregnancy or those wishing to get pregnant.
The egg yolk also contains some healthy fat and cholesterol, which not only aid in the absorption of the fat soluble nutrients, but also plays a critical role in our cell, hormone, and neurological health.
Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol from animal products, especially eggs, are NOT to be blamed for heart disease and high blood cholesterol levels. We need cholesterol and real food sources of saturated fats in order to keep our bodies functioning normally. No more of this "eat only the egg whites" or "limit yourself to one egg a day" nonsense. Eat the eggs. Eat a ton of them. You'll be fine as long as the other factors that influence heart health are in order (i.e. alcohol intake, stress, sleep, refined carbohydrate intake, and sugar intake). You can read more about cholesterol here.
Egg whites, on the other hand, contain protein, but also contain lysozyme, which often contributes to egg allergies. We often see this allergy exacerbated in those who have a leaky gut and those who eat almost exclusively egg whites (i.e. liquid egg whites, egg white protein powder, etc).
What's worse is when companies create egg beaters or liquid "egg white" concoctions with other flavorings and additives (chocolate flavored egg whites anyone?). These cartons of "healthy liquid egg whites free of fat and loaded with protein" are absolute toxic BS and should be avoided at all cost in favor of real, WHOLE eggs.
When purchasing eggs, like any protein, quality matters, especially when it comes to the nutrient profile. Ideally, we want to get our eggs from chickens that are pasture raised, meaning they are allowed to eat their biologically appropriate diet of rocks, bugs, and plants and are allowed to roam free. These eggs also tend to be a tad higher in omega 3 fatty acids, which are essential to the human body. You can tell when eggs are pasture raised and rich in nutrients by the color of the yolk; it will be very orange. When at the store (or farm ideally!), look for pasture raised over "free range" and "cage free" labeling. "Vegetarian fed" labels should be avoided, as chickens aren't vegetarians, and "no added hormone" labels do not mean much, as chickens aren't allowed to be given hormones anyway.
Conventional eggs, on the other hand, typically contain fewer nutrients and can also have a skewed omega 3:omega 6 ratio, which, when out of balance (i.e. too many omega 6 fatty acids compared to omega 3's in the body), can contribute to higher inflammation levels in the body, These eggs also have a very pale yolk color.
Obviously, this doesn't mean that if all you have access to or can afford is conventional eggs is to just buy egg beaters instead. No, conventional eggs will always be better than those liquid egg white concoctions.
The moral of the story? Eat the whole egg. Every time. No exceptions. At restaurants, avoid the "healthy" and "low calorie" egg white omelets. Stop buying the fake egg white beaters. Just eat the whole egg!
And remember - don't worry about eating too many. One egg only contains about 6 grams of protein, so one is NOT ENOUGH for breakfast, nor is two really unless you add another protein alongside like bacon, sausage, beef, or seafood. Just a word from the wise over here....