Which is better egg white or yolk?

Quick Answer

Both egg whites and egg yolks contain valuable nutrients, so neither is necessarily “better.” Egg whites are fat-free and high in protein, while egg yolks contain healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For most people, consuming whole eggs to get the benefits of both the white and yolk is ideal.

Nutrition Facts

Here is a comparison of the basic nutrition facts for egg whites versus egg yolks (data per 1 large egg white or yolk):

Nutrient Egg White Egg Yolk
Calories 17 55
Protein 3.6g 2.7g
Fat 0g 4.5g
Carbs 0.2g 0.4g
Cholesterol 0mg 184mg

As you can see, the main differences are:

  • Egg whites are fat-free and higher in protein, while yolks contain healthy fats.
  • Yolks are much higher in cholesterol, but eggs do not negatively impact cholesterol for most people.
  • Yolks contain more calories in a smaller serving size.

Below is more detail on the beneficial nutrients found in each part of the egg.

Benefits of Egg Whites

High in Protein

The main benefit of egg whites is their high protein content. Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles, supporting immune function, maintaining hormone balance and much more.

The 3.6 grams of protein in an egg white accounts for over 7% of the recommended daily intake for protein. Egg whites are often used as a protein source in fitness, athletic and muscle-building diets.

Low Calorie

With only 17 calories in an egg white, this portion of the egg is an ideal low-calorie source of nutrition. The low fat and carb content also helps minimize overall calorie intake.

People looking to lose weight often rely on egg whites as a nutritious protein choice that won’t break the calorie bank.


Unlike the yolk, egg whites contain zero fat. For people limiting total and saturated fat, egg whites provide a fat-free option.

However, keep in mind that the fats found in egg yolks and other whole eggs are very healthy. But for those at risk of heart disease or with extremely high triglycerides or cholesterol, the fat-free aspect of egg whites may be advantageous.

Contain Key Vitamins & Minerals

While not as micronutrient-dense as yolks, egg whites do contain small amounts of important vitamins and minerals.

One egg white provides:

  • Riboflavin: 11% DV
  • Selenium: 9% DV
  • Potassium: 5% DV
  • Magnesium: 3% DV

Egg whites also have trace amounts of calcium, iron, zinc, copper and vitamins B6 and B12.

Benefits of Egg Yolks

High in Nutrients

Egg yolks contain almost all of the vitamins and minerals found in eggs. Some of the nutrients found in sizable amounts include:

  • Vitamin A: 10% DV
  • Vitamin D: 18% DV
  • Vitamin E: 5% DV
  • Vitamin K: 9% DV
  • Folate: 5% DV
  • Pantothenic acid: 4% DV
  • Selenium: 21% DV
  • Calcium: 2% DV
  • Iron: 2% DV
  • Phosphorus: 8% DV

In addition to vitamins and minerals, egg yolks contain choline, lutein, zeaxanthin and other potent antioxidants. The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K are only found in the egg yolk.

Helpful Fats

The majority of the fat in egg yolks comes from healthy unsaturated fats. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help reduce inflammation, stabilize heart rhythms and have antioxidant properties.

Saturated fat makes up about 30% of the fat in eggs. Despite old nutrition advice to avoid dietary saturated fats, research shows that eggs and other whole foods that naturally contain saturated fat are not problematic for heart health or cholesterol for most people.

May Promote Eye & Brain Health

Two antioxidants found exclusively in egg yolks – lutein and zeaxanthin – are known to support eye health and brain function.

Studies show that getting adequate lutein and zeaxanthin from foods may help prevent age-related macular degeneration and cataracts – two leading causes of blindness. These antioxidants are also found in the eyes and important for healthy vision.

In terms of brain health, lutein and zeaxanthin may help prevent cognitive decline. Research has found that people who eat eggs most days have better memory, learning and processing speed later in life compared to those who eat eggs rarely.

Egg Whites vs Yolks: Which Is Healthier?

When it comes to nutrition and health, both the white and yolk offer benefits. Here is a quick comparison:

Egg Whites

  • Higher in protein
  • Lower in calories
  • Fat-free
  • Contain some B vitamins and minerals

Egg Yolks

  • Higher in vitamins and minerals
  • Contain healthy fats
  • More antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin
  • More calories in a smaller serving

For most people, whole eggs (with both the white and yolk) are likely the healthiest and most beneficial choice. This provides a good balance of protein, fat, carbs, vitamins and minerals.

However, here are some instances where egg whites or yolks alone may be preferable:

When Egg Whites Alone Are Better

  • Need a very high protein, low calorie and low fat meal or snack
  • Following a vegan diet (can use egg white replacers)
  • Limiting dietary cholesterol (under medical supervision)

When Egg Yolks Alone Are Better

  • Need more fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K
  • Want to maximize antioxidant intake
  • Following a high fat, low carb/keto diet
  • Need calories from fat instead of carbs for energy needs

As long as you do not have an egg allergy or sensitivity, consuming 2-3 whole eggs several times per week is perfectly healthy for most people. Adjust this as needed based on your own nutritional needs and diet preferences.

Risks of Egg Allergies & Sensitivity

Although uncommon, some people may experience allergic reactions from eating eggs. Symptoms can include:

  • Skin rashes, hives, eczema
  • Runny nose, sneezing, asthma signs
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea and vomiting
  • Anaphylaxis shock reaction

People allergic to eggs should avoid all egg-containing foods and products. Talk to your doctor if you experience negative symptoms after eating eggs.

Those with egg sensitivities can sometimes tolerate egg whites better since the allergy-provoking proteins are often concentrated in the yolk. But it’s important to discuss options with your healthcare provider.

Some groups at higher risk for egg allergies include:

  • Young children who may outgrow the allergy
  • People with other food allergies
  • Those with atopic diseases like asthma

While egg allergies can be serious for some, the vast majority of people can safely consume eggs and benefit from their nutrition.

How Are Egg Whites & Yolks Used?

Egg whites and yolks each lend themselves better to certain cooking methods and foods.

Egg Whites

Egg whites are often used:

  • In omelets, frittatas and scrambles
  • To make egg white omelets or scrambles
  • In smoothies
  • In cocktails like whiskey sours
  • As a binding and leavening agent in baked goods
  • To make egg white wraps
  • In meringue

Egg Yolks

Egg yolks are commonly used:

  • In custards, puddings, creme brulee
  • In Hollandaise or béarnaise sauce
  • To make mayonnaise
  • In salad dressings and aioli
  • To coat or glaze baked goods
  • In carbonara pasta sauce
  • To bread or coat foods before frying

The rich, fatty quality of egg yolks makes them useful for adding creaminess, moisture and body to foods. Egg whites whip up into foamy textures well suited for light, airy baked goods.

Egg White vs Yolk: Which Is Better for Baking?

Both egg whites and yolks serve important roles in baking recipes like cakes, cookies, crepes and breads.

Here are some of the ways each portion of the egg is utilized:

Egg Whites

  • Lighten texture – Whipped egg whites add air into batters.
  • Help leaven – Albumin proteins help cakes and quick breads rise.
  • Add structure – Coagulated egg white proteins give structure.
  • Moisten – Liquid egg whites bring moisture into recipes.
  • Bind – Sticky egg white proteins hold ingredients together well.

Egg Yolks

  • Rich flavor – Egg yolk fats carry flavor.
  • Keep moisture – Fat retains moisture for tender baked goods.
  • Improve mouthfeel – Fats coat the mouth for pleasing texture.
  • Promote browning – Fat on the surface attracts browning.
  • Add color – Deep yellow-orange yolks impart color.

In general, cakes and sponge-like items rely more heavily on egg whites for their delicate texture. Cookies, quick breads and pastries utilize more egg yolk for compact structure and richness.

But most baked goods use whole eggs to take advantage of the beneficial qualities of both the white and the yolk.

Simple Recipes Using Egg Whites or Yolks

Here are a few easy recipe ideas that showcase egg whites or yolks:

Egg White Omelet


  • 3 egg whites
  • Pinch of cream of tartar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fillings like veggies, cheese, meat


  1. Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy.
  2. Heat pan over medium heat and coat with cooking spray.
  3. Pour in egg whites and cook until bottom sets.
  4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top half with fillings.
  5. Fold over half without fillings and cook until set.

Egg Yolk Custard


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • Ground nutmeg


  1. Whisk together egg yolks, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt.
  2. Pour into a baking dish and top with nutmeg.
  3. Bake at 325 F until set, about 30 minutes.
  4. Chill before serving.

Lemon Meringue Pie


  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 6 tbsp sugar

Pie crust:

  • 1 baked 9-inch pie crust


  1. Make filling by whisking yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Heat lemon juice and water to a boil, then temper into yolk mixture. Return to heat and cook until thick, 2-3 minutes.
  2. Pour into baked pie crust.
  3. For meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar until stiff peaks form.
  4. Spread meringue over filling. Bake at 350 F until meringue is browned, about 10 minutes.


Egg whites and yolks each provide their own nutritional benefits. For most people consuming a balanced diet, enjoying whole eggs to get the full spectrum of egg nutrients is ideal. However, egg whites alone can be a low calorie, high protein option, while egg yolks alone provide important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Both portions of the egg serve useful culinary purposes as well. Vary your egg intake based on your own dietary needs and preferences to take advantage of the stellar nutrition contained in both egg whites and yolks.

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