An egg white is made up of the clear liquid that surrounds the yolk of an egg. Its gel-like consistency is about 88% water, with the rest of its content consisting of proteins and peptides.
Consequently, egg whites are a high protein food that can lead to many further health benefits. These include supporting the health and function of the bodily tissues and providing nutrition with a low calorie intake.
This article will discuss the nutritional profile of egg whites and their possible benefits. It will also explain how to incorporate egg whites into your diet safely, including recipe ideas and potential health risks.
In a fertilized egg, the whites provide necessary nutrients and a protective layer to the yolk. When we eat unfertilized eggs, we instead gain those nutrients ourselves.
However, when you separate the yolk from the egg, it changes the nutritional content considerably.
The table below demonstrates the main nutritional differences between a large whole egg and the egg white from a large egg, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
It also includes the differences between the Daily Values (%DV) of the significant vitamins and minerals found in eggs. Daily Value is the approximate daily requirement of nutrients for healthy adults.
Removing the yolk from a whole egg means that the remaining white has lower levels of certain essential nutrients.
While egg whites have a lower level of vitamins and minerals than a whole egg, they offer some health benefits.
These beneficial characteristics include being high in protein and amino acids while being low in calories.
High in protein and amino acids
There is a relatively high level of protein in egg whites. The whites contain around 57% of the total protein found in a large whole egg.
Protein consists of nutrients called amino acids. When we consume these amino acids through our diet, the body repurposes them to build the proteins we need. They are used for different bodily functions, such as growth and repair.
As a result, eating protein is essential for health and can have benefits including:
- growth and repair of body tissues and structures, such as:
- aiding hormone production
- feeling more full for longer
Learn more about amino acids and how they contribute to health.
While egg whites can be high in certain nutrients, they are also relatively low in calories.
This makes them a good option for people seeking to maintain a moderate weight. Incorporating egg whites into a balanced diet may help you to meet some nutritional needs while reducing your overall calorie intake.
For example, one whole large egg has on average 71.5 calories, while just the egg white from one large egg contains an average of 17.2 calories.
Additionally, the protein in egg whites may help you to feel more full after eating. This may reduce your drive to take in further energy.
Learn more about how calorie intake relates to maintaining a healthy weight.
Low in fat and cholesterol
Many people have avoided eating eggs due to their relatively high cholesterol content. However, all of the cholesterol present in eggs is in the yolk, with none of it being in the egg whites.
Additionally, researchers suggest that eating whole eggs can still be beneficial for health.
Regardless, egg whites themselves are very low in all fats and contain no cholesterol. This includes being low in saturated fat, which is the fat that can negatively impact cardiovascular health.
If you are unsure whether eating whole eggs or egg whites is appropriate for you, contact your doctor. They may be able to make more personal, specific recommendations according to your individual circumstances.
Egg whites may promote healthy hair, skin, and nails due to their protein content.
Some people also claim that egg whites have cosmetic benefits when applied directly to the skin or hair. However, this is not advisable as it can result in an allergic reaction.
Always consult your doctor before implementing natural remedies at home. Contact your doctor if you have any skin or hair symptoms you would like to treat.
You can incorporate egg whites into your meals alongside other foods with vitamins and minerals. This can add variety to your diet and help meet your nutritional needs.
Some egg white recipes and meal ideas include:
- vegetable and egg white omelet
- hard boiled eggs without the egg yolks and with added protein, such as turkey ham with a side of fresh fruit
- scrambled egg whites with red and green peppers and whole wheat toast
- baked savory egg white muffins with cheese and tomatoes
- egg white sandwich with romaine lettuce on whole grain bread
- avocado on toast topped with poached egg whites
- egg white and salmon wraps with a side of leafy green vegetables, such as spinach
A registered dietitian or nutritionist can help you create balanced meals according to your individual needs, lifestyle preferences, and cooking choices.
Egg white protein powder
Some people take a protein powder supplement to help them increase their protein intake and aid muscle recovery. This can be especially helpful if you eat a diet that excludes some protein and amino acid sources, such as a strict plant-based diet.
Egg white protein powder is a good option for people who have lactose intolerance. It is a good alternative to whey or casein-based powders, which can contain lactose. Instead, egg white protein powders consist of dried egg whites.
You can add egg white protein powder to plain water, smoothies or juices, or other meals and foods.
However, supplements alone cannot meet all your nutritional requirements. This is because whole foods tend to contain a variety of essential nutrients. Researchers from a 2019 review also recommend meeting protein needs through whole foods rather than supplements.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplements, and that includes protein powders. To check for harmful ingredients, you can use the Clean Label Project’s database to find the supplements they have approved after testing.
Egg whites are mostly safe for consumption, but some people may experience egg allergies. These allergies may be a response from your immune system to specific proteins found in eggs.
Symptoms may occur after eating an egg or having contact with one.
Allergy symptoms can include:
Seek emergency medical care for any symptoms of anaphylaxis.
If you experience mild allergic reactions to eggs, you should avoid them and consult your doctor. They may recommend a food allergy test, and they can suggest how to incorporate other protein and nutrition sources.
Additionally, raw eggs can contain bacteria that can threaten health. Salmonella is one of these bacteria. Salmonella can cause serious illness, especially in those who are vulnerable. Those most at risk are young children, older adults, and people who have underlying health problems.
To avoid getting ill from raw eggs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following precautions:
- Buy eggs from suppliers that keep eggs refrigerated, and refrigerate them when storing them at home.
- Try to buy pasteurized eggs and egg products.
- Discard cracked eggs.
- When eating cooked eggs, make sure that the yolk and whites are firm. They should also reach an internal temperature of at least 160ºF (71ºC).
- After cooking eggs, eat them or refrigerate them after no more than 1 hour.
- Only use pasteurized eggs for foods that use raw or lightly cooked eggs. Examples of such foods include tiramisu, hollandaise sauce, and Caesar salad dressing.
- Do not consume dough or batter containing uncooked eggs.
- Use soap and water to wash your hands and any other item that touches the raw eggs, such as countertops, cutting boards, and utensils.
As egg whites are lower in vitamins and minerals, you will also need other sources of nutrition to maintain a balanced diet.
Egg whites are a high protein food that is low in calories. Health benefits of egg whites include the growth and repair of body tissues, such as muscle and bone. Egg whites also help you feel full while being low in calories
Additionally, egg whites contain little to no fat or cholesterol. However, they also contain a lower level of vitamins and minerals compared to whole eggs.
You can incorporate egg whites into a healthy diet alongside other sources of vitamins and minerals.
Contact your doctor if you have any signs of an egg allergy or if you want to change your diet.