Today’s post comes from Serena Ball, MS, RD. Based in St. Louis, registered dietitian Serena Ball is co-founder of TheRecipeReDux.com blogs at TeaspoonOfSpice.com. She is a nutrition writer and social media expert. Serena’s flavor-focused food writing has appeared in Relish, Spry and Parents, and CookingLight.com.
Don’t toss those yolks!
As a registered dietitian, I am surprised to hear it suggested that the healthiest way to eat an egg is to cook up the whites only and toss those bright yellow yolks. The reality is that just as with other vividly colored foods – kale or red leaf lettuce versus iceberg – the bright color of a yolk signals it contains some of the highest concentration of nutrients.
Here’s what can be found in an egg yolk1:
- 42% of the protein in an egg – While it’s generally well-known that egg whites contain protein, the yolk contains more than 2.5 grams of the total 6 grams of high-quality protein found in an egg.
- 59% of the selenium in an egg – Relatively few foods contain the important antioxidant selenium which regulates thyroid function and helps prevent cell damage. It is found in Brazil nuts and mainly animal sources such as fish, poultry and beef.
- 100% of the zinc in an egg – Only the yolk contains the mineral zinc, which is especially important for normal growth and development during pregnancy; it’s also necessary for wound healing and immunity. For people who don’t eat much meat, egg yolks are one of the few sources of this nutrient.
- 100% of the iron in an egg – Necessary for muscle and other cell growth in the body, children and older adults are two populations which tend to have low iron intake – and thus can benefit from consuming eggs, which are the inexpensive and easy-to-chew. Other sources of iron include meat, fortified cereals and to a lesser degree, beans.
- 100% of the vitamin B6 in an egg – Folks who consume egg whites for protein miss out on the vitamin B6 found in the yolk; this is unfortunate because vitamin B6 is critical for protein metabolism. Vitamin B6 is also important in immune function. It is found mainly in meat and poultry – but to some extent in fortified cereals and beans.
- 100% of the choline in an egg – Choline is one of the most important reasons that pregnant women should consume eggs, as it is critical for brain development of a baby. The nutrient choline is also necessary for normal functioning of all cells. Choline is found in few other foods as commonly consumed as egg yolks; it’s available in beef liver and chicken livers, cod and smaller amounts in cauliflower.
Eggs contain many other important nutrients (a list of which can be found here,) but the above were highlighted because eggs are one of the few natural sources of these nutrients, which are not found in other commonly consumed foods. At only about $0.15 per egg, the whole egg – yolk and white together – is one of the most affordable sources of high-quality protein and good nutrition available2.
And remember, ‘An egg a day is OK’ – especially when it keeps company on the plate with whole grains, fruits and vegetables. To enjoy eggs for breakfast, lunch, a light dinner or even dessert, I created this recipe using fruit, whole grains, low-fat dairy and one whole egg per person. Make in a muffin pan to serve as breakfast or dessert – or serve for brunch as a casserole!
Apple Cheddar Bread Pudding Bites
6 eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cups low-fat milk
½ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups cubed whole wheat bread
1 large (or 1 ½ medium) apple, unpeeled, cored and finely chopped
¾ cup (3 ounces) low-fat Cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large bowl beat together eggs, milk, sugar, nutmeg. Gently fold in bread and apple; let set for 10 minutes for bread to soak up mixture. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
Optional: Can also be scooped evenly into greased two standard-sized 6-cup muffin pans; sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Makes 12 muffin cups; serving is 2 muffin cups.
Disclosure: I was asked to write this post; and as big fan of eggs and a member of the Egg Nutrition Center Health Professionals Advisory Panel, I was happy to oblige. I am compensated for being a Health Professional Advisor. Opinions are my own.
- S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. 2010. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23. www.ars.usda.gov/nutrientdata.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Economic Research Service. Retail data for beef, pork, poultry cuts, eggs, and dairy products (October 2013). Retrieved on September 17, 2014 from http://www.ers.usda.gov/Data/MeatPriceSpreads/