What to Know About Egg Whites And Your Health

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on July 14, 2023
3 min read

Eggs are a popular breakfast entrée and are also used in many baked dishes. Egg yolks are high in cholesterol, leading many people to prefer egg whites to the yolk. What is the nutritional value of egg whites, and how can you cook with them?

The yolk contains the fat and cholesterol content of an egg. If you want to get the nutrition of egg without the fat, take out the yolk before cooking with eggs.

When you take away the yolk, you lose many vitamins like A, D, E, K, as well as DHA. Egg whites have fewer calories and no fat. The white of an egg has:

  • 4 grams of protein
  • 55 milligrams of sodium
  • 1.3 micrograms of folate
  • 6.6 micrograms of selenium
  • 2.3 milligrams of calcium
  • 3.6 milligrams of magnesium
  • 4.9 milligrams of phosphorus‌
  • 53.8 milligrams of potassium

Cooking with egg whites. You can usually replace a single egg in a recipe for two egg whites. Keep in mind that separating the yolk requires more handling of the egg, which may increase your risk of contracting Salmonella. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling eggs while cooking.

Good source of protein. Egg whites are an excellent way to add protein to your diet without adding calories. Protein helps your body build strong muscles and maintain muscle mass as you age.

Heart-healthy. While egg yolks are fine in moderation, if you are already at risk for heart disease or stroke, your doctor may recommend a heart-healthy diet. With no cholesterol, egg whites are a great addition. You could also mix one whole egg with another egg white for added protein without the added cholesterol and fat of the second yolk.

Keep in mind that eggs are often paired with breakfast meats like bacon and sausage. You may also be tempted to season your eggs with salt or fry them in oil. While egg whites are healthy, these additions to your diet are not. Don’t be tricked into thinking that by choosing to say no to the egg yolk, you can make less healthy choices in other places.

Allergies. Eggs are a top food allergen in the United States. Most egg allergies come from albumin, which is a protein found specifically in egg whites. If you have an egg allergy, you may experience:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Hives or other rashes
  • Redness and swelling on your skin
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting‌
  • Coughing and asthma-like symptoms

Biotin. Biotin is a vitamin that is crucial for the health of your hair, skin, and nails. It also aids in digestion of food and metabolism. By eliminating the egg yolk, you also get rid of the vital nutrient of biotin. If you eat eggs white for the nutritional benefits, consider adding these other foods to your diet for biotin:

  • Oats
  • Tomatoes
  • Mushrooms
  • Avocados
  • Onions
  • Swiss chard
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Peanut butter
  • Cauliflower
  • Banana
  • Soy
  • Berries‌
  • Almonds

Bacteria Risks. Salmonella is common in eggs and can lead to food poisoning. Egg whites are as much of a risk as egg yolks. If you do eat eggs, make sure they are fully cooked first, since eating a raw egg puts you at a greater risk for contracting salmonella.

Vegetarian diet. If you are a vegetarian and do not eat red meat, egg yolks may be your only source of cholesterol. If you are a vegetarian, talk to your doctor about incorporating eggs (including the yolk) into your diet.

Talk to your doctor about whether eggs are a healthy choice for you. Remember, eating eggs is good for your diet as long as you get a healthy variety of other foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.