Are chicken egg yolks bad for your heart health? Do they raise the cholesterol level in your blood? The simplest answer is no. Despite unfounded recommendations about minimizing or avoiding the consumption of yolks due to contentions related to the possibility of elevating blood cholesterol levels, the truth is that these often slated part of the chicken egg is packed with nutrients. Hence, at relatively moderate amount, consumption of egg yolks can bring forth numerous health benefits.
Cracking the Misconception: The Low Down on Chicken Egg Yolks
Egg Yolks Have Cholesterol, But They Do Not Significantly Raise the Cholesterol Levels In Your Blood
Why is chicken egg yolk not bad for your heart health? For starters, the yolk has lots of cholesterol. The United States Department of Agriculture said that one large chicken egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol—all of which is found in the yolk. This amount of cholesterol corresponds to 62 percent of the recommended daily intake. However, this does not mean it would elevate the cholesterol level in your blood. Eating foods high in cholesterol does not essentially mean that you will develop high cholesterol.
Take note that the cholesterol in a chicken egg yolk is dietary cholesterol. It is important to understand the difference between dietary cholesterol and serum or blood cholesterol. The National Heart Foundation of Australia noted that dietary cholesterol in food only has a small effect on the level of cholesterol in the blood. It also has a little effect on raising the level of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein in the blood.
Dr. Anthony Komaroff, an American physician, clinical researcher, and the editor-in-chief of the Harvard Health Letter, also explained that most of the cholesterol in the body and its level in the blood comes from the liver. Saturated fat and unsaturated fat in the diet stimulate the liver to produce cholesterol. However, when it comes to the fats coming from eggs, studies have shown that consumption of yolks contributes little to the production of cholesterol by the liver.
Writing for Mayo Clinic, American physician Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez also said that some studies have revealed that eating seven eggs a week may actually lower the levels of blood cholesterol and prevent some types of stroke. The reason for this stems from the fact that the intake of dietary cholesterol compels the liver to produce less to keep blood cholesterol levels from becoming excessively high.
Both Dr. Komaroff and Dr. Lopez-Jimenez said several studies have reported the fact that there is no clear-cut association between chicken egg consumption and risks of developing cardiovascular diseases. However, both reminded that what comes with eggs matter. The saturated fat in butter, cheese, bacon, sausage, and muffins—foods that usually accompany eggs—may have closer ties to cardiovascular disease risks.
Chicken Eggs and their Yolks are a Complete Food Because they Contain Beneficial Nutrients
Research has confirmed that chicken eggs and their yolks contain beneficial nutrients. To be specific, these beneficial nutrients are mostly contained in the yolks while the whites contain mostly of proteins.
The yolk has 60 calories or three times the energy content of the whites. The yolk of a large chicken egg also contains 2.8 grams of proteins and 4.66 grams of total fat. Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are found in the yolks alone. It is also important to highlight the fact that the yolk is one of the few foods containing Vitamin D.
Carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are responsible for the yellow color of the yolk, play a role in maintaining eye health and protecting against inflammation. Of course, carotenoids need to be eaten with fat for the body to better absorb them. Remember that the yolk contains fats. The choline in the yolk is also crucial in maintaining proper metabolism and the proper signaling of neurotransmitters.
Of course, too much of something is always bad. Note that the consumption of chicken egg yolks would not substantially raise blood cholesterol levels. However, experts have warned that people with already high levels of cholesterol in their blood should still avoid eating foods high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats because of the slight increase they can bring.
FURTHER READINGS AND REFERENCES
- Komaroff, A. 2017. “Are eggs risky for heart health?” Harvard Health Letter. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School. Available online
- Lopez-Jimenez, F. 2018. “Are chicken eggs good or bad for my cholesterol?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Available online
- National Heart Foundation of Australia. n.d. “Eggs.” The National Heart Foundation of Australia. Available online