Do Egg Yolks Make You Gain Weight?

Expert Advice, Food, Nutrition

By: Alexa Erickson // August 12, 2016

Eggs are nutritional powerhouses that provide the body with many nutritional benefits. But while they top a lot of health charts, their yolks are often demonized for causing blood-cholesterol levels to skyrocket. This has caused people to order up, cook up and talk about egg whites as the way to go. So, is it true? Do egg yolks make you gain weight? The short answer is no.

Because heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, much work has been done to find ways to prevent rising numbers. Years ago, scientists discovered that high blood cholesterol was linked to heart disease, which caused foods high in cholesterol to quickly get a bad rap, eggs included. But 25 years later, scientists have come to find out that it’s not cholesterol in food that’s the problem, it’s saturated and trans fats that are the real villains.

Related: Do Bananas Make You Fat?

In fact, your body actually needs cholesterol in such things as eggs to make testosterone, which works to increase energy and help build more calorie-building muscle. One study at the University of Connecticut even found that the fat in egg yolks reduces “bad” cholesterol (LDL).

“Dietary cholesterol does not translate into high levels of blood cholesterol,” explains Dr. Luc Djoussé, who is an associate professor and heart disease researcher at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and has conducted research on eggs and heart disease. “Current scientific data do not justify worries about egg consumption, including egg yolk, when it comes to heart health.”

National health officials agree, with the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans reflecting that we shouldn’t be limiting our dietary cholesterol.

Of course some may wonder about people with genes that put them at a greater risk for heart and cholesterol problems, but a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that eating an egg every day isn’t of concern.

“Our focus should be on healthy dietary patterns, not specific foods or nutrients,” notes Dr. Robert Eckel, who is a program chair and professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Eggs get a lot of attention because they’re so popular and for a while were kind of vilified. But I’m a lot more concerned about people eating more fruits and vegetables, and adhering to a healthy dietary pattern.”

And it’s not just about the yolk not harming you, it’s about the benefits of the whole egg, too. They’re chock-full of beneficial vitamins and minerals. In fact, they offer up almost every essential vitamin and mineral our bodies need to function. They’re even among the few natural food sources of vitamin D, and have 7 grams of high-quality protein to boot. And that’s not all. Whole eggs are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, B6, B12, riboflavin, folate and choline which are thought to actually help prevent heart disease. When you skip the yolk and opt for the whites, you’re missing out on so many nutritional benefits, plus, you’re only getting half the protein.

But how much can you eat? Common recommendations include a maximum of 2-6 yolks per week, but there isn’t a whole lot of valuable scientific support for such limitations, making it hard to know where the fine line lives. Dr. Jyrki Virtanen of the University of Eastern Finland who led the new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition believes focusing on one aspect of a food, such as the cholesterol in eggs, is not a reliable way to understand the impact of food on one’s health. His study’s “one egg per day” findings were the average of several days, which means that, even if you indulge in a three-egg omelet a couple days a week, so long as you’re averaging out one egg a day, you’re in the clear.

So if you’ve been constantly craving the egg yolk, but continuously passing it up, it’s time to banish your bad perspective and finally indulge.

READ THIS NEXT: How To Make Hard Boiled Eggs That Are Easy To Peel

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