Eggs contain a variety of beneficial nutrients.
However, the nutritional value of an egg can vary, depending on whether you eat the whole egg or just the egg white.
This article takes a detailed look at the nutritional profile of egg whites and when compared to 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, the nutritional value of your egg changes considerably.
The chart below shows the nutritional differences between the egg white of a large egg and a whole, large egg:
Egg white nutrition facts
- Calories: 18
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Cholesterol: 0 grams
- Vitamin A: 0% of the daily value
- Vitamin B12: 0% of the daily value
- Vitamin B2: 11% of the daily value
- Vitamin B5: 1% of the daily value
- Vitamin D: 0% of the daily value
- Choline: 0% of the daily value
- Selenium: 8% of the daily value
Nutrition facts of a whole egg
- Calories: 71
- Protein: 6 grams
- Fat: 5 grams
- Cholesterol: 186 mg
- Vitamin A: 27% of the daily value
- Vitamin B12: 19% of the daily value
- Vitamin B2: 18% of the daily value
- Vitamin B5: 15% of the daily value
- Vitamin D: 19% of the daily value
- Choline: 27% of the daily value
- Selenium: 27% of the daily value
As you can see, an egg white contains fewer calories and micronutrients, as well as less protein and fat, than a whole egg.
Summary: An egg white contains fewer calories than a whole egg. It is also lower in protein, cholesterol, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
Egg white is low in calories but high in protein
Egg whites are high in protein but low in calories. They pack around 67% of all the protein found in eggs.
They provide what is considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids in the amounts your body needs to function at its best.
Due to their high protein content, eating egg whites can provide health benefits. Protein can help curb your appetite, so eating egg whites could make you feel fuller for longer.
Getting enough protein is also important for maintaining and building muscle — especially if you’re trying to manage your weight.
Given that whole eggs provide 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.
Summary: The egg whites from a large egg provide 4 grams of protein and only 18 calories. This can make them a good food choice for people trying to lose weight.
Egg white is low in fat and free of cholesterol
In the past, eggs have been a controversial food choice due to their high saturated fat and cholesterol content.
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 cholesterol.
For years, this meant that eating egg whites was considered healthier than eating whole eggs.
But studies have now shown that for most people, the cholesterol in eggs is not a problem.
Nevertheless, for a small number of people — called “hyper-responders” — eating cholesterol will raise blood levels.
Hyper-responders have genes, such as the APoE4 gene, that predispose them to high cholesterol. For people with this gene or individuals with high cholesterol, egg whites may be a better choice.
Additionally, given that egg whites contain almost no fat, they are significantly lower in calories than whole eggs.
Suggested read: How many calories are in an egg?
This can make them a good choice for people trying to limit their calorie intake and lose weight.
Summary: 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.
Potential risks of egg white
Egg whites are usually a safe food choice. However, they do carry some risks.
Though egg whites are safe for most people, egg allergies can occur.
Children experience egg allergies more often compared with other age groups; however, they often outgrow the condition by the time they reach 5 years old.
An egg allergy is caused by your immune system incorrectly identifying some of the proteins in eggs as harmful.
Mild symptoms can include rashes, hives, swelling, a runny nose, and itchy, watery eyes. People can also experience digestive distress, nausea, and vomiting.
Eggs can cause a severe allergic reaction known as an anaphylactic shock — though this is a rare occurrence.
Anaphylactic shock causes several symptoms, including a drop in blood pressure and severe swelling in your throat and face — which could result in death if combined.
Salmonella food poisoning
Raw egg whites also pose a risk of food poisoning from the bacteria Salmonella.
Salmonella can be present in the egg or on the eggshell, but modern farming and cleanliness practices can minimize this risk.
Furthermore, cooking egg whites until they are solid significantly reduces your risk for this problem.
Reduced biotin absorption
Raw egg whites may also reduce the absorption of the water-soluble vitamin biotin, which is found in a wide variety of foods.
Biotin plays an important role in energy production.
Raw egg whites contain the protein avidin, which can bind to biotin and stop its absorption.
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In theory, this could be a problem. However, you would have to eat large amounts of raw egg whites to cause a biotin deficiency.
Additionally, once the eggs are cooked, avidin does not have the same effect.
Summary: 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.
Egg whites vs. whole eggs: Which should you eat?
Egg whites are high in protein yet low in calories, fat, and cholesterol — making them good food to include in your eating plan if you’re trying to lose weight.
They may also benefit those who have high protein requirements but need to watch their calorie intakes, such as athletes or bodybuilders.
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.
What’s more, despite their high cholesterol content, one analysis found no link between egg intake and heart disease risk.
The same review noted that eating up to one egg per day may reduce your risk for a stroke.
Moreover, the nutrients found in eggs have been linked to a host of health benefits.
Egg yolks are also a rich source of two important antioxidants — lutein and zeaxanthin — which help prevent eye degeneration and cataracts.
Additionally, they contain choline, an essential nutrient that many people do not get enough of.
Eating whole eggs also makes you feel full, which can help you in eating fewer calories overall.
Studies have shown that eating eggs for breakfast could help lower weight, BMI, and waist circumference.
However, if you’re on a very strict reduced-calorie diet, have a family history of high cholesterol and heart disease, or already have high levels of cholesterol, egg whites may be a healthier choice.
Summary: Egg whites are lower in calories than whole eggs. However, they also lack many of the beneficial nutrients found in egg yolks.
Egg whites are a high-protein, low-calorie food.
Yet for most people, there are not 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 — egg whites can be a good food choice.
Suggested read: Is eating raw eggs safe and healthy?