Down with egg whites!

Scrambled egg white.... yum?

Scrambled egg white…. yum?

The “No White Foods Diet” has been around in one form or another for decades.  It started as a carb-phobic plan, since the guilty foods were white bread, rice, , pasta, potatoes, sugar and so forth.  Unfortunately the simplistic rule to avoid white foods means all kinds of non-carb healthy foods are also white: yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken breast, turkey breast, milk, cauliflower, onions and many more.

Whatever would the No White Food diet devotees make of the current vogue for egg whites?  Egg white omelets, egg white breakfast sandwiches, scrambled egg whites, egg white quiche (Gah!) and ready-to-pour egg whites for baking.

Why Egg Whites?

It probably all started with ancient (and discredited) nutrition advice to avoid egg yolks because they contain cholesterol and some fat.  Even the 2015 Dietary Guidelines have ditched the idea that we need to obsess about cholesterol in eggs.  Also gone: recommendations to avoid fat.  But egg whites live on, probably because the food supply chain is full of them, and fast food restaurants have menus and productions lines dedicated to egg whites.  It’s going to be one of those defunct diet ideas that never goes away, at least not until the food manufacturers run through their egg white supply.

And sadly I still see diet advice, even from credentialed people who should know better, advising people to buy those egg white things.  Why?  Supposedly to eat a few less calories on your greasy sausage breakfast muffin?  Since you have to use twice as much of the egg white stuff to get the volume of one real egg, the calorie savings are minimal at best.

Egg white omelet.. ... yum?

Egg white omelet.. … yum?

Unfortunately for nutrition, the egg yolk is where most of an egg’s nutrients are found.  Choline is one especially critical nutrient found in egg yolks, not in whites.  Estimates are that people are eating too little choline, partly because everyone has been avoiding eggs and egg yolks for the past few decades thanks to that outdated diet advice.  Here’s a nutrient comparison:

            calories   protein     fat   vit D  vit A  choline
egg yolk      55        2.9 g     4.5 g   37     245    150 mg
egg white     17        3.6 g       0      0      0       0

Egg yolks are also good sources of nutrients like iron, B12, choline and zinc.  Egg whites = 0.  In fact the only thing egg whites have going for them is protein.  No flavor, no other nutrients.

When cooked as-is, egg whites are basically tasteless and a bit rubbery/chewy.  No one would eat them that way, so the egg white purveyors have to pimp them up with artificial coloring, salt, texturizers and artificial flavors to make them taste vaguely egg-like, although never, ever like real whole eggs, with actual egg yolks, which have a unique flavor and texture that can’t be replicated by food processing shenanigans.

Here’s the only things plain egg whites are good for: angel food cake and meringue.  In fact, these recipes depend on the unique properties of egg whites, which whip up into a sturdy foam that holds its shape.  Except for these uses, I can’t think of one good reason to eat processed egg whites.

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