Eggs are loaded with a variety of beneficial nutrients.
However, the nutritional value of an egg can vary greatly,
depending on whether you eat the whole egg or just the egg
This article takes a detailed look at the nutritional profile
of egg whites and explores whether they’re a healthier choice
than whole eggs.
Nutrition Facts of Egg Whites and Whole Eggs
Egg whites are the clear, thick liquid that surrounds the
bright yellow yolk of an egg.
In a fertilized egg, they act as a protective layer to defend a
growing chicken from harmful bacteria. They also provide some
nutrients for its growth.
Egg whites are made up of around 90%
water and 10% protein.
So if you remove the yolk and choose just the egg white, then
the nutritional value of your egg changes considerably.
|Egg White||Whole Egg|
|Protein||4 grams||6 grams|
|Fat||0 grams||5 grams|
|Cholesterol||0 grams||211 mg|
|Vitamin A||0% RDI||8% RDI|
|Vitamin B12||0% RDI||52% RDI|
|Vitamin B2||6% RDI||12% RDI|
|Vitamin B5||1% RDI||35% RDI|
|Vitamin D||0% RDI||21% RDI|
|Folate||0% RDI||29% RDI|
|Selenium||9% RDI||90% RDI|
As you can see, an egg white contains fewer calories and
micronutrients, as well as less protein and fat, than a whole
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Bottom Line: An egg white contains fewer
calories than a whole egg. It is also lower in protein,
cholesterol, fat, vitamins and minerals.
They’re Low in Calories but High in Protein
Additionally, this protein is high-quality, complete protein.
This means it contains all nine essential amino acids in the
amounts your body needs to function at its best (3).
Given that whole eggs provide you with only slightly more
protein for quite a few extra calories, egg whites can be an
appealing choice for people who are trying to lose weight.
Bottom Line: The egg whites from a large egg
contain 4 grams of protein and only 17 calories. This can
make them a good food choice for people trying to lose
Egg Whites Are Low in Fat and Contain No Cholesterol
However, all of the cholesterol and fat
in eggs is found in the egg yolk. Egg whites, on the other
hand, are almost pure protein and contain no fat or
For years, this meant that eating egg whites was considered
healthier than eating whole eggs (9).
Nevertheless, for a small number of people, eating cholesterol
will raise blood levels slightly. These people are called
Additionally, given that egg whites contain almost no fat, they
are significantly lower in calories than whole eggs.
This can make them a good choice for people trying to limit
their calorie intake and lose weight.
Bottom Line: Egg whites are low in
cholesterol and fat. This makes them a good choice for people
who need to limit their cholesterol intake, as well as those
trying to lose weight.
Risks of Eating Egg Whites
Egg whites are usually a safe food choice. However, they do
carry some risks.
Although egg whites are safe for most people, egg allergies can
Most egg allergies are experienced by children, who often
outgrow the condition by the time they reach the age of five
An egg allergy is caused by your immune system incorrectly
identifying some of the proteins in eggs as harmful (17).
Mild symptoms can include rashes, hives, swelling, a runny nose
and itchy, watery eyes. People can also experience digestive
distress, nausea and vomiting.
While it’s rare, eggs can cause a severe allergic reaction
known as anaphylactic shock. This causes a number of symptoms,
including severe swelling in your throat and face and a drop in
blood pressure, which could be deadly if combined (18).
Salmonella Food Poisoning
egg whites also pose a risk of food poisoning from the
Salmonella can be present in the egg or on the egg
shell, although modern farming and cleanliness practices can
minimize the risk.
Furthermore, cooking egg whites until they are solid
significantly reduces your risk of this problem (19).
Reduced Biotin Absorption
Raw egg whites may also reduce the absorption of a compound
which is found in a wide variety of foods.
It’s a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in
energy production (20).
Raw egg whites contain a protein called avidin, which can bind to biotin and stop it from
In theory, this could be a problem. However, you would have to
eat large amounts of raw egg whites to cause a biotin
Additionally, once the eggs are cooked, avidin doesn’t have the
Bottom Line: There are some risks associated
with eating raw egg whites, including allergic reactions,
food poisoning and biotin deficiency. However, the risk for
most people is small.
Should You Eat Egg Whites or Whole Eggs?
Egg whites are high in protein yet low in calories, fat and
cholesterol, which makes them a good food for weight loss.
Egg whites may also benefit those who have high protein
requirements but need to watch their calorie intake, such as
athletes or bodybuilders (21).
However, compared to whole eggs, egg whites are low in other
nutrients. Whole eggs contain a wide range of vitamins,
minerals, extra protein and some healthy fats.
And despite eggs being high in cholesterol, a very recent
analysis found no link between egg intake and the risk of heart
disease. The same review found that eating up to one egg per
day might actually reduce your risk of having a stroke
Moreover, the nutrients found in eggs have been linked to a
host of health benefits.
However, if you are on a very strict reduced-calorie diet, have
a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease or you
already have high levels of cholesterol, then egg whites may be
a healthier choice for you.
Bottom Line: Egg whites are lower in
calories than whole eggs. However, they also lack many of the
beneficial nutrients found in egg yolks.
Take Home Message
Egg whites are a high-protein, low-calorie food.
Yet for most people, there aren’t many benefits to choosing egg
whites over whole eggs, as whole eggs provide you with many
more beneficial nutrients.
That said, for some people, particularly those who need to
limit their cholesterol intake or are trying
to lose weight, egg whites can be a healthy food choice.