If you keep your own flock of laying hens, it can be very difficult to throw that beautiful orange egg yolk down the drain. After all, you know that one of your own chickens worked hard to produce that yolk, and you might even know which hen produced it! Besides, that vibrant homegrown egg yolk certainly looks healthier than the pale yellow one that is found at the grocery store.
While the place of egg yolks in a healthy diet is a controversial subject, there is a good case for enjoying pasture-raised yolks from your own healthy, happy hens. Here’s why:
- Conflicting cholesterol claims: Quite a few nutrition scientists are backing off from the old argument that egg yolks raise cholesterol. More recent studies suggest that moderate egg consumption has no effect on cholesterol for most people (a few individuals may experience a sudden spike in cholesterol after eating eggs). Also, many chicken keepers eat more eggs than the average American—and enjoy excellent health.
- Nutritional value: The role of the egg yolk in nature is to nourish the developing chick until it hatches. Therefore, it’s not surprising that most of the nutrients found in eggs are stored in the yolks. Some of these nutrients include vitamin A, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, choline, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium, as well as a variety of antioxidants and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. While all egg yolks share these nutritional benefits, research from Pennsylvania State University indicates that pasture-raised egg yolks have higher amounts of many of these nutrients than conventional egg yolks.
- Extra protein boost: While it is true that much of an egg’s protein content is found in the white, that doesn’t mean that the yolk isn’t a good source of protein, as well. Every egg yolk adds an additional 2.7 grams of protein to your diet, according to the USDA. Furthermore, the white only has an advantage because it is larger than the yolk—every 100 grams of yolk contains 15.86 grams of protein compared to 10.90 grams of protein in 100 grams of white.
- Flavor: Since most of the nutritional value of an egg is found in the yolk, most of the flavor comes from that source, as well. Healthy eating does not have to be boring—why not enjoy the taste of that homegrown egg?
“Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies”
A review of several studies, suggesting that eggs may not pose as great a health risk as was previously thought.
Take a look at the nutrient profile of an egg yolk, from the USDA’s FoodData Central.
Now compare the nutritional value of the yolk to that of the white.
“Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens”
The Penn State study that demonstrated the particular health benefits of pasture-raised eggs.