Are Raw Egg Whites Healthy?

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist August 13, 2011

I posted a smoothie recipe yesterday that garnered several comments about whether raw egg whites are safe to eat.

It’s not really a matter of what is safe versus not safe … the entire egg is “safe” to eat raw if you obtain quality eggs.  It is best to avoid eating commercial eggs raw due to the unsanitary conditions and crowded production methods the unfortunate confined chickens are subjected to which increases salmonella risk.

The real question is whether egg whites are healthy to consume raw.

The egg yolk is a wonderful way to get healthy, raw fats into the diet.  Loaded with enzymes along with brain boosting and nervous system calming omega 3 fatty acids when from chickens allowed to run free to peck for their natural food of insects and grubs, raw egg yolks are healthy to use in smoothies, ice cream and other uncooked foods.

The raw egg white, on the other hand, contains avidin and trypsin inhibitors.   Avidin blocks the digestion of biotin, one of the B vitamins and the trypsin inhibitors make digestion of the protein in the egg white more difficult.

Both of these antinutrients are neutralized by cooking, so it is best to reserve the egg whites for cooked dishes.  My favorite way to use up raw eggs whites in a hurry is to make nutrient dense, soaked waffles or delicious high protein cookies.

Raw egg whites can be stored in a glass container in the fridge for several days until you are ready to use them up.

One other salient point - the egg yolk actually contains about 43% of the protein in the egg, so don’t worry that leaving out the egg whites from your smoothies will leave it devoid of this macronutrient.

 

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

 

Comments (44)

  1. Justyn Lang via Facebook August 13, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Thanks so much for the ideas on how to use the extra egg whites! I haven’t used the yolks in smoothies because I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the whites. :-)

    Reply
    • So pour them into a bowl, use the egg yolks in a smoothie, and make an omelette with the free run eggs, and some organic greens. You’ll get plenty of protein (and other good stuff), and you won’t feel bad about pouring them out :)

      Reply
  2. Thanks! Two questions: Can egg whites be frozen for later use? Can farm-fresh eggs be kept at room temperature? If so, how long? Oh, one more thing (question from your “high-protein cookie” recipe). What is the difference between Grade B maple syrup and Grade A? My grocery store (we live in a small town) only sells (organic) Grade A.

    BTW, you have single-handedly changed the way my family eats!

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Nelly, yes you can freeze egg whites. They last up to a week in the fridge though so just make a big batch of protein cookies with your kids for a very healthy low carb snack during the week instead as you do lose a bit of nutrition by freezing and thawing.

      Farm fresh eggs can be kept on the counter for several weeks. I tend to do it only for a week or so where I live though especially in the hot humid summer in FL where our home does get rather warm during the day (78F .. we keep our thermostat pretty high).

      Grade B maple syrup is darker and more nutritious with more minerals than Grade A.

      Reply
  3. At Nourished Kitchen, they use them (along with refined table salt, I’m guessing) for skin care. I’m fond of chocolate & coconut macaroons, myself :)

    Reply
  4. Francie Dunlap via Facebook August 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    That’s interesting, I always just put the whole egg in my smoothie, and didn’t think much about it. Now I’ll just save the whites to add to everyone else’s omlettes.

    Reply
  5. I wonder if the effects of avidin and trypsin inhibitors are purely theoretical or have they been proven empirically?

    I myself have been consuming on average 4 whole raw eggs per day for the past 5 years and have suffered no ill effects that I am aware of. Whole raw eggs are one of the cornerstones of The Primal Diet espoused by Aajonus Vonderplanitz Phd and have been used by a great many people who follow his program to create vibrant health. The eggs themselves are rich in biotin and the undenatured proteins seem to digest very easily. So that is why I must wonder about advice about not eating raw egg whites and whether it has been proven in humans or is just theoretical.

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      This from Cholesterol and Health site (written by Chris Masterjohn)

      Consuming 100 grams of raw egg white with one egg yolk compared to consuming the same food cooked was shown in one study to reduce protein digestion from 90 percent down to 50 percent.
      http://jn.nutrition.org/content/128/10/1716.short (Journal of Nutrition).

      It seems you would be absorbing that protein a whole lot better if you cooked the whites.

      I would also add that folks consume improperly prepared gluten grains for years without seeming ill effect either and then out of the blue develop chronic IBS, colitis and other gastrointestinal problems.

      Reply
  6. My stomach absolutely does not tolerate egg whites. Probably those inhibitors you mentioned. No problem with raw yolks, and I do fine with low-and-slow cooked whole eggs.

    Reply
  7. I’m with you Greg. i doubt if the animals that rob the nests of birds bother to separate the yoke from the white. :-)
    Also the freezing of foods(excepting fruits) does little for the nutrient levels.
    I mostly agree with Sarah, but not on this one. A bit of flawed science, or science looked at from the wrong angle.
    Also I guess I’m looking at it from an all raw perspective, whereas this site does promote cooked foods as well. They don’t mix that well.
    Cooked foods are not all that bad, but I feel raw is the ultimate for best health, and regeneration of the body.

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Keith, I certainly respect your choice to consume all your foods raw; however, few things in life are completely black and white. Eating all raw foods is certainly better than eating all cooked foods, but there is a happy medium in there somewhere as is made clear from study of traditional cultures that cooking of some foods is best for nutrient absorption and neutralization of anti-nutrients. We are not Pottenger’s Cats after all although much can be learned and put into practice from this study no doubt.

      Reply
    • Hey Keith, Some animals *are* choosy about the parts of the animal that they eat. I’ve seen my aunts cats only eat the organ meats of some chipmunks that they caught, and WP spoke about lions being raised in captivity not being able to reproduce in captivity as in nature they usually only consume the high quality organ meats. In nature they leave the muscle flesh for jackals…. so in nature (some) animals don’t always consume all that is available to them. Sometimes they select the best and leave the rest.

      Reply
  8. That is interesting about the quantity of protein in the yolk. That was something I was curious about – thanks for posting!

    Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      A occasional raw egg yolk as in the mayo recipe is fine. They are certainly not dangerous as pointed out in the post. I was more referring to eating them frequently as in several a day in a smoothie for example as the protein is not absorbed well when they are consumed raw and the biotin in blocked from absorption.

      Reply
  9. Hi
    I’ve taken this from Scott Wheeler’s blog
    Jad-
    One of my raw food mentors convinced me that there was more than enough biotin in raw egg yolks to compensate for this problem, and I revised my previous recommendation to say that eating whole raw eggs would not pose a problem. This idea made sense to me as many wild animals consume raw eggs with no apparent problems.
    However, recently a subscriber, Dr. Sharma, PhD, who is a biochemist with Bayer, contacted me about this issue. His investigation into the matter revealed that there is not enough biotin in an egg yolk to bind to all the avidin present in the raw whites. He found that 5.7 grams of biotin are required to neutralize all the avidin found in the raw whites of an average-sized egg. There are only about 25 micrograms — or 25 millionths of a gram — of biotin in an average egg yolk. ” from the mercola website.
    I guess you would still be getting a lot of biotin from the raw meats as well?
    Scott Wheeler
    Aug 20th, 2008 at 6:16 pm
    Jad, the action of the amino acid avidin binding with biotin is shown empirically in laboratory analysis.(The bond has also been shown to be beneficial for retaining muscle glycogen and dissolving biocarbons). However the body has an innate ability to properly alter any chemically identified enzyme inhibitor in eggs, allowing them to be eaten in their entirety. The empirircal evidence is presented here by none other than mother nature. Many Primal dieter’s have also eaten up to 30 eggs per day for at least 25 years and exhibit none of the symptoms associated with biotin deficiency. Conclusions based on lab analysis which arrive at contradictions when considered metaphysically should be dimissed. There is no doubting that biotin ( as with all of the B vitamin complex) is an essential nutrient. It has never been shown that the consumption of whole raw eggs can cause a deficiency of this or any other nutrient, in fact quite the contrary.

    In addition, it should be fairly obvious that eating whole raw eggs cannot cause a biotin deficiency. Millions of years of evolution proves this. In Vitro, Avidin binds with Biotin. In Vivo, the yolk contains Biotin to combat this reaction and the inherent ability of the body to perform symbiotic biochemistry is primary. This is a good example of how experiments done in test tubes on isolated chemical elements bears no relation to the complexity of real life physiology.
    End of quotes
    it seems a lot of what is done in the petri dish/test tubes does not always quite relate or equate to what is happening in the body. So unbeknown to the scientists, at times their results are only a rough guide at best.
    Keith
    PS> I have great respect for Scott. He lives/walks his talk, and his living practices have proven to be spot on, so far as health benefits for his family and himself.
    And great respect for your work as well, Sarah. These exchanges can benefit all to improve health and well being.
    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Keith,
      Could you please post Scott Wheeler’s website/blog? I would really like to check it out.
      I also like what you have had to say about the :”controversy”.
      While yes, scientifically it looks like egg whites should be cooked before being consumed, my common sense says it doesn’t make sense that we need to take a food and eat part of it raw and part of it cooked…..

      Reply
  10. Good post. So many people who think they eat healthy are unaware of anti-nutrients in food.
    On another note altogether, anyone notice the ironic country crock ad on the sidebar of this arcticle?

    Reply
  11. I knew raw eggs were safe (well, if they come from safe chickens, that is), but I had no idea about the anti-nutrients in the whites. Thanks for informing!

    Reply
  12. I had always put the whole egg in our smoothies but last year my son began to have excema on his hands and he hadn’t had any of that since he was a baby. Anyway, I read somewhere that excema can be linked to a biotin deficiency and that egg yolks have plenty of biotin but the white can inhibit it. So I just started putting the yolk in and within a week or two his excema cleared up completely and I haven’t seen any sign of it since.

    Reply
  13. Hi Sarah, I am having trouble finding healthy eggs. I can find cage free eggs or organic eggs at the store. I can find pasture eggs from a farmer which also feeds his laying hens a little mixture of corm from another local farmer, which is sprayed, and little organic feed. Which eggs are best? And what about the winter months? I live in Michigan and no grass and bugs in winter.
    Thanks you and thank you so much for all you do. I am learning so much.
    Janet

    Reply
  14. Thanks, again for furthering my education. I have often used whole eggs in our smoothies. Had no idea the whites might hinder nutrient absorption! I always thought if it was MADE with both the yolk and egg together, it must be okay to eat them together. I’m printing out this post! :)

    Reply
  15. sarah

    thank you again for a great post . always wondered what to do with the egg whites. Re your waffle pan I can only find ones with non stick surfaces. Can I ask where you got yours? Also I wanted to ask you a question re bircher meusli. I soak my oats in whey and then make bircher meusli but I have been told it is bad to eat oats bot cooked. Would you agree with this and if so any ideas how to make it with cooked oats?

    thank you as always
    Lara

    Reply
  16. I often throw away the egg whites due to digestion related issues (the yolk gives nutrients and makes up for the digestion required to “consume” it)

    Plus the egg yolk tastes better!

    Reply
  17. Pingback: Sprouted Chocolate Chip-less Cookie Recipe

  18. I understand they are “safe when finding good quality eggs” but let me pose this question, “how on earth can you trust you are finding good quality eggs?”
    With the new twist and changes on “organic” per our USDA and FDA, how is good quality eggs found?
    Salmonella is NOT a risk I am willing to take, but I found a good recipe that I’d like to try but RAW eggs has kinda steered me away for the above mentioned reasons.
    I have thought of spraying my eggs down with a certified, toxic free (alcohol free) sanitizer. http://www.mommysclub.com/product?ProductId=6
    Lots of research shows that Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide is great for cleaning raw veggies and fruits, I’m sure it could serve justice in cleaning eggs if It makes me feel better. :-)
    Input please?

    Reply
  19. Curious what your take is on the GAPS milkshake recommending raw egg yolk and white (for supposed heavy metal detoxification)? If it is something to be done only while on the program… Just wondering if you know why she recommends the raw white. Thanks:)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Login to your account

Can't remember your Password ?

Register for this site!