The Truth About Egg Yolk

Eggs are also the quintessential breakfast food. You can eat them with bacon, toast, saut?ed veggies or as an omelette with all your favorite trimmings. But should you eat the yolk, the sunny yellow center of the egg that contains many nutrients required for our bodies?

Opinions fall on both sides of the shell. Eggs are natural foods that contain an average of six grams of protein, most of which is in the yolk, according to the American Egg Board. Yet yolks are high in cholesterol and some medical professionals advise people to reduce or eliminate yolks from their diets.

Talk with your doctor to learn what is best for your body. Here are some pros and cons of eating egg yolks.

Cholesterol Calling

Mayo Clinic cardiologist Thomas Behrenbeck, M.D., says that an egg yolk has about 213 mg of cholesterol, and the daily recommended intake of cholesterol is 300 mg per day if you are healthy. Those who have cardiovascular disease, diabetes or a high LDL ("bad") cholesterol level should limit their intake to less than 200 mg per day. That means one egg yolk and you are over your limit.

Among people who don't have those medical conditions, the amount of dietary cholesterol that can have a negative effect varies from one person to another, Behrenbeck says. Low cholesterol alternatives to eating whole eggs include using only egg whites, which contain zero cholesterol, or using an egg substitute.

Brain Food

On the plus side, egg yolks contain choline, a member of the B-vitamin family that helps our brains function and enhances our memories. Alternate dietary sources of choline include soybeans, peanuts, potatoes, cauliflower, lentils, oats, sesame seeds and flax seeds.

Keep an Eye On It

Egg yolks also contain lutein and zeaxanthin that contribute to improving eye health and protecting eyes from ultraviolet rays, according to the Alberta Egg Producers in Canada. Alternate sources of lutein and zeaxanthin include kale, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn and Brussels sprouts.

Vitamins Galore

Egg yolks also contain many of the nutrients missing from the average adult's diet such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, E, B6 and D, say nutritionists.

The bottom line is, like most things, eggs—yolks and all—are fine for most of us when eaten in moderation and when part of a healthy lifestyle.

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