Cholesterol In Eggs – Whites Vs. Yolks

The relationship between eggs and cholesterol is one that has been studied extensively over the last several decades.  For a long period of time eggs were deemed as unhealthy and it was recommended that they be cut from your diet as they were thought to increase the risk of heart disease.  With the latest studies, this is showing to be not true and the recommendations have changed so that healthy people may add 1-2 eggs per day to their diet.  Though, the one thing people are still curious about is the cholesterol in eggs.  How much cholesterol can be found in eggs?  Are eggs high in cholesterol?  Does the white or the yolk contain more cholesterol?

Cholesterol In Eggs - Whites Vs. Yolks

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How much cholesterol is in eggs?

Before we can answer this, there is one thing that needs to be discussed – the size of the egg.  When we say “eggs” we are talking about what chickens lay.  While many people do consume goose, quail, duck, and many other types of bird eggs, since chicken eggs are the huge majority eaten we will focus on these.  Even within the category of “chicken eggs”, there are many different sizes, from peewee to extra large.  Since large is the most common, this is also our focus.

A large chicken egg, the yolk and the white, contains around 213 mg.  Of course, not every one is uniform in size so the total amount can vary a little.  This is the total amount found in the entire egg.

Does this mean eggs are high in cholesterol?

Well, the current recommendation from the American Heart Association says that healthy people should consume 300 mg or less of cholesterol.  Since one egg contains around 213 mg you may consider this as being high in cholesterol.  Though, you are able to eat an egg a day and still be within the recommended amount of cholesterol if you are careful with the rest of the food you consume.

The recommended 300 mg or less of daily dietary cholesterol is also considered very strict by many health organizations.  Additionally, there are studies indicating that even though consuming eggs may raise total cholesterol, your HDL (good) cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels both rise so the ratio remains the same.  This means that the risk of heart disease does not increase.

What about the egg yolks and egg whites?

This is where things get interesting.  ALL of the cholesterol is found in the egg yolk.  Therefore, egg whites do not contain any cholesterol.

The yolks also have other nutrients and minerals, but for those looking for protein it can be found in the egg whites.  This is why you can essentially eat as much egg whites as you want without any worries of cholesterol.  If you get egg substitutes, such as Egg Beaters, you can also make up for the vitamins and minerals you are missing by not eating the yolks because the substitutes are fortified with these nutrients.

While there seems to be a high level of cholesterol in eggs, it may not be as bad as it seems.  If you want to avoid dietary cholesterol (people with high LDL cholesterol should limit dietary cholesterol to 200 mg per day) you can simple consume egg whites or egg substitutes.