Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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Dietitian Consult

by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

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To include the yolk or skip it... that's the question. A new study was recently published linking egg yolks to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. While eating a diet high in cholesterol and saturated fat is certainly linked to increased risk for heart disease, to place the blame solely on egg yolks seems a bit extreme. In my opinion, more research needs to be done before you start taking yolks out of your diet completely. The egg yolk has been a controversial issue for many years. One minute they're great for you in moderation, the next they're terrible for you.
That is one of the biggest problems about having so much information at our fingertips. The messages are often confusing and information and recommendations seem to change almost daily. It's important to take health and nutrition information with a grain of salt until you see what the particular study looked at and if they were funded by any particular industry or company.

As far as egg yolks are concerned, I still recommend them in moderation. They are an inexpensive, complete protein that offer many nutritional health benefits. They are low in calories, high in protein, and are rich in things like choline, leucine and B12 - all of which have protective benefits. They do have about 200 mg of cholesterol per egg, so you certainly don't want to over do it, but there's no reason to swear them off. The American Heart Association does not specify a recommended amount of yolks per week. I usually recommend limiting intake to about 4 yolks a week, while enjoying egg whites or egg substitute as often as you'd like... those don't have any cholesterol.

It may seem like I repeat myself, but my point of view on a healthy diet is that all foods in moderation is the best policy. I believe it's more important to watch your diet as a whole than focus on certain foods as being "bad." There are tons of other foods out there that are much less "good for you" than eggs. By limiting fried foods, baked goods, red meats and high-fat dairy (just to name a few), you'll be reducing your overall cholesterol and saturated fat intake and, in turn, improving your chances of preventing cardiovascular disease. In addition to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and exercise, you can still enjoy those eggs a few times a week.

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@ 11:42am ET on September 3, 2012
Good explanation Mehgan. I remember reading a study where having an egg breakfast (yolk and all) help subjects lose weight. It is confusing for consumers all of the different information.
Thank you,
Jennifer Arussi, MS, RD

@ 1:23pm ET on September 3, 2012
Good article! I go the middle road and have a whole egg, but with some extra white from a yolk I throw away (or cook for the dog).

@ 9:36pm ET on September 3, 2012
Good article and I think it's funny how we give any credence to these studies whatsoever...

1. We don't know what type of eggs they used (were they pasture raised or fed corn and soymeal loaded with inflammatory omega-6 fats?)

2. We don't know how they were cooked (most likely not sift boiled or poached, which prevents oxidation of the fats/cholesterol)

3. What else were they eating!

4. Oh and by the way, the study was done on former stroke patients...

5. And the subjects were smokers...

It's really the media that turns these insignificant findings into mainstream news. We should all know better by now, but somehow we fall for the same headline news every week ; )

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