Eggs provide the body with almost all the essential nutrients it needs for optimal health. An egg contains a variety of vitamins and minerals and is also high in protein; however, individuals wishing to control their cholesterol intake may opt to discard the yoke and eat only the whites of a hard-boiled egg. Consult with your health care adviser before making dietary changes.
The USDA's Nutrient Data Laboratory states that one large egg, with the yolk, has 72 calories. Without the yolk, the caloric value drops considerably, to 17 calories. Although a whole egg is already relatively low in calories, some individuals on a low-fat diet may prefer to eat only the whites as the fat content of eggs is found primarily in the yolk.
The protein content of the whites of one hard-boiled egg and one whole egg is 4 grams and 6 grams, respectively. The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult men have a daily intake of 56 grams of protein, adult women ingest 46 grams of protein each day, and pregnant or lactating women consume 71 grams of protein daily. The carbohydrate content of eggs is insignificant; one whole egg provides just over .50 grams of carbohydrates and the egg whites contain approximately .25 grams of carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy to function well and since eggs are not a rich source of carbohydrates, it is crucial to incorporate nutritious carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, in the diet. One whole egg contains 5.3 grams of fat, 1.6 of which is saturated, while egg whites have almost no fat. Fat is the body's alternative source of energy once its storage of glucose has been depleted; however, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are the healthiest while saturated and trans fats are potentially harmful. Saturated fat should be restricted to 7 percent of your total caloric intake for the day.
Vitamins & Minerals
Since egg whites have a lower fat content than whole eggs, dieters may favor the whites of the egg rather than the yolk; however, most of the nutrients found in an egg are provided by the yolk. The yolk contains 10 minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus and potassium, as well as over 20 vitamins, including vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin E and lutein. These micronutrients are essential for overall health; calcium, for instance, supports the health of the bones and teeth, while lutein is a vital nutrient for the eyes.
Although excessive consumption of eggs may elevate cholesterol levels and induce heart disease, the Harvard School of Medicine states that ingesting a moderate amount of eggs, in conjunction with a diet low in saturated fat, is fine. Presenters at the 2011 Experimental Biology conference confirm that restricting your intake to one egg each day will unlikely impact your level of cholesterol or your risk of heart disease. Individuals concerned about cholesterol have the option of eating only the whites, as the cholesterol is found only in the yolk.
- USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory: Food Search
- Egg Nutrition News Bureau; Dietary Cholesterol, Egg Intake and Heart Disease; April 2011
- Harvard Medical School; Egg Nutrition and Heart Disease; July 2006
- Net Doctor; Vitamins and Minerals; Jeni Worden, G.P.; April 2011
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intake of Macronutrients
- Mayo Clinic: Dietary Fats