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Within an egg, there are two distinct liquids: the egg yolk and the egg white. The yolk is the primary food source for a developing embryo that can later be born as a chick, and the white -- or albumin -- is a clear liquid surrounding the yolk with the primary purpose of protecting the yolk from damage or impact. The egg white has one primary function within the egg, but as a low fat, high protein food source, the white has many uses in cooking.
The health benefits of egg whites are far reaching, allowing egg lovers to continue eating eggs without the high fat content and cholesterol associated with the yolk. The whites -- so called because the clear liquid turns white when mixed and then cooked -- contain little fat and cholesterol, making them a healthy alternative to regularly prepared eggs including the yolk.
Egg whites contain essential minerals such as potassium, magnesium,calcium, zinc, and iron. Because the whites are generally bland, they easily take on the flavors of other foods. This makes them versatile ingredients in a variety of dishes, from salads to soups, from baked goods like cookies and brownies to spicier dishes like souffles and stews.
In order to enjoy the health benefits of the egg white, you must first separate it from the yolk. This process can be somewhat tedious, but with some practice, the process becomes second nature. First, lightly crack the egg in half and hold it vertically. Then, pull off the top half of the egg shell, leaving the yolk and white in the lower half. Pour the contents of the egg from one half of the shell to the other, allowing the white to fall into a bowl below. Continue this process until only the yolk remains inside the shell and all the white has fallen into the bowl.
Because of their high protein and mineral content, egg whites are recommended for chemotherapy patients; however, whites are also somewhat high in sodium, so they can be restrictive in some diets calling for low sodium content. They are a smart choice for low cholesterol recipes and egg whites can be substituted in recipes that call for whole eggs or yolks. Be sure to check measurement conversions first to find out how many egg whites you will need to substitute for a whole egg.