The Yolk: A Nutrient Goldmine

 

What You Lose Without the Yolk

Eggs are packed with nutrients. One large egg has varying amounts of 13 essential vitamins and minerals - all for 70 calories. While egg whites contain some of the eggs’ high quality protein, riboflavin and selenium, when you skip the yolk, you lose at least a portion of the following nutrients found in part in the yolk and, in some cases, entirely in the yolk alone:

Protein

  • Vital for the health and maintenance of body tissues, such as muscle

  • Other sources: Meat, fish, poultry, dairy, beans, nuts and seeds
    Note: Eggs provide the highest-quality protein available. Other sources of complete protein, which contains all essential amino acids, are animal proteins and soy.

 

Vitamin D

  • Works with calcium to promote bone health, regulates cell growth and immune function

  • Other sources: Salmon, tuna, fortified foods such as milk and orange juice when fortified

 

Choline

  • Essential for normal functioning of all cells, important for brain development of a fetus during pregnancy

  • Other sources: Beef or chicken liver, cod and cauliflower

 

Vitamin B12

  • Involved in nerve function, energy metabolism and synthesis of DNA and red blood cells

  • Other sources: Fish, meat, poultry, milk and fortified breakfast cereals

 

Folate

  • Prevents birth defects and damage to DNA, needed for cell division and growth

  • Other sources: Fortified grain products, beans and spinach

 

Vitamin A

  • Supports immune function, eye health and cell growth

  • Other sources: Meat, milk, sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots and cantaloupe

 

Vitamin B6

  • Critical for protein metabolism and synthesis of neurotransmitters, important for immune function

  • Other sources: Meat, poultry, beans and fortified breakfast cereals

 

Iron

  • Needed to transport oxygen throughout the body, involved in regulation of cell growth and immunity

  • Other sources: Beef, tuna, fortified cereals, and beans

 

Thiamin

  • Required for nutrient metabolism and normal function of the heart, muscles and nervous system

  • Other sources: Enriched bread and flour, meats, beans and nuts

 

Vitamin E

  • Antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage

  • Other sources: Oils, nuts and seeds

 

Selenium

  • Regulates thyroid function, antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage

  • Other sources: Brazil nuts, fish, poultry and beef

 

Phosphorous

  • Essential for development of healthy DNA, important in bone structure

  • Other sources: Milk and other dairy products, meat, fish, poultry and nuts

 

Zinc

  • Supports normal growth and development during pregnancy and childhood, required for taste and smell, important for proper immune function and wound healing

  • Other sources: Oysters, meat, poultry, seafood and beans

There’s More to Eggs Than Just The Whites

While eggs are commonly associated with breakfast and protein, many individuals aren’t aware of the nutrient package the whole egg provides. This includes a variety of important vitamins and minerals required for the body to maintain health. These nutrients, a majority of which are found in the yolk, play key roles in many aspects of health at all ages, from supporting fetal development in pregnant women to helping protect brain health in older adults.

Additionally, enjoying an egg a day can fall within current cholesterol guidelines, particularly if individuals opt for other low-cholesterol foods throughout the day. In fact, the American Heart Association includes one medium egg on its list of healthy foods for under $1, making eggs an inexpensive and delicious way for individuals to get these nutrients.