Are Raw Egg Whites Healthy and Safe to Eat?
I posted a smoothie recipe that garnered several comments about this, so I thought I’d take a few words to answer. Of course, I’m not talking about Egg Beaters or liquid egg whites from the store. Rather, this article is about whether the egg white from a real egg is healthy or even safe to consume without cooking.
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, unprocessed fats into the diet. Yolks from duck and goose eggs included! 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. They, of course, are also healthy cooked. My favorite recipes using lots of them at once are creme brulee or traditional Welsh Rarebit.
What to do with all the leftover egg whites if you are making a dish that requires only yolks, however? Can or should you use them raw?
Anti-Nutrients in Raw Egg Whites
Most people do not realize that the raw egg white contains avidin and trypsin inhibitors. Duck egg whites also contain this anti-nutrient.
Avidin blocks the digestion of biotin, one of the B vitamins. The trypsin inhibitors make digestion of the protein in the egg white more difficult.
Both of these anti-nutrients are neutralized by cooking. As a result, it is best to reserve the egg whites for cooked dishes.
Even though raw egg whites contain anti-nutrients, the amount doesn’t compare with aquafaba. This popular vegan egg substitute made from cooked chickpea water contains dangerous substances such as saponins, which contribute to the development of leaky gut according to scientific research. What’s more, the anti-nutrients won’t go away with cooking, so avoid it!
Ways to Use and Store Uncooked Egg Whites
If you can’t use them right away, they store well in a glass container in the refridgerator 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 (source). So don’t worry that leaving out the egg whites from your smoothies will leave it devoid of this macronutrient.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Since 2002, Sarah has been a Health and Nutrition Educator dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household.
Sarah was awarded Activist of the Year at the International Wise Traditions Conference in 2010.
Sarah received a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master of Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, her work has been covered by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.