When it comes to the egg, think more than just white

By Jim Stoppani, PhD | Senior Science Editor

October 29, 2009


Almost every bodybuilder knows about the useful role of egg whites as a protein source. An egg white contains 3.6 grams (g) of protein, with only 17 calories and no fat. But the yolk of the egg, which is high in cholesterol, is often tossed out — along with its valuable nutrients.

Egg yolks contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the same healthy fat that’s found in fish, such as salmon. DHA is essential for communication between cells in the nervous system, for brain and eye function and for regulation of the fat profiles in blood. The eating habits of most people cause them to be deficient in omega-3s, and this deficiency can result in joint damage and muscle loss, in addition to a host of other problems. One egg yolk contains 18 milligrams (mg) of DHA; DHA-enriched eggs contain a whopping 120-150 mg per egg. These are eggs produced by hens fed a special DHA-rich diet. A dozen large grade AA eggs that are enriched with omega-3s can cost a dollar or two more than a dozen unenriched eggs of the same size and grade.

Another valuable nutrient you probably don’t get enough of — one that is also found in egg yolks — is lecithin. Lecithin enhances cell membrane dynamics, which dictate control over what goes in and out of your body. It also helps keep fats and cholesterol levels in line, and it aids the gastrointestinal system in healing from the use of painkillers. Every cell in the human body needs lecithin, yet it is difficult to find lecithin in wholesome foods — aside from whole eggs. They are your best bet for meeting your quota of lecithin. Adults need at least 6 g of lecithin daily; bodybuilders need even more. One large egg contains a little more than 1 g. So, don’t forgo the yellow nutritional powerhouse in the center of the egg. Next time you have a 4-6-egg white omelette be sure to leave two yolks in the mix. Not only will it taste better, but you’ll turn a high-protein yet nutritionally wan meal into one that will benefit more than just your muscles.