Are Egg Whites Really Better For You Than Whole Eggs?

Think of the last time you went to brunch. It's a safe bet that someone at your table was eating eggs in one form or another. They're a popular breakfast food and a good source of protein and nutrients. Eggs may seem like a harmless addition to your diet, but the debate surrounding their health benefits has been raging for decades, and some experts say that the answer may lie in what part of the egg you're eating.

For over forty years, the U.S. government has cautioned that eating too many eggs can raise cholesterol levels and put people at risk for heart-related disease. But in 2016, the new "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" were released and no longer contained restrictions on dietary cholesterol, including the amount of eggs that should be consumed as part of a healthy diet (via Washington Post). In response, Americans significantly ramped up their egg consumption. But was that a good idea?

Which part you eat depends on this

Eggs are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B7, antioxidants, and choline, a nutrient that's essential for brain and heart health but isn't found in many foods (via Harvard Health Publishing). Because the fat in eggs is only in the yolk, doctors have blamed its high saturated fat content on high cholesterol levels and heart disease. But decades of research by scientists have not been able to prove that eating eggs actually increases cholesterol (via the journal, Current Opinion in Nutrition and Metabolic Care).

While they may not raise your cholesterol, there are different nutritional benefits to eating either egg whites or whole eggs. For example, egg whites are packed with protein, but don't have nearly as many calories as whole eggs (via Healthline). If you've been instructed by a medical professional to limit your calorie intake, egg whites are a good choice for filling protein and some vital nutrients like vitamin B and selenium. However, if you're looking for the biggest bang for your nutrient buck, whole eggs are the way to go. They contain even more protein, healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals that are nowhere to be found in the whites alone.

Choosing between egg whites and a whole egg really just depends on your personal nutritional needs. And there's nothing inherently unhealthy about either one. As long as you're eating a variety of nutritious foods, eggs can be part of a healthy diet for most people.