Chicken eggs are one of the most nutritious and affordable foods on the market today.

Many diet trends embrace eggs, including keto, gluten-free, paleo, and Whole30. Eggs are one of my favorite breakfast foods because they always keep me full and satisfied — the best start to my day.

Eggs are made up of:

  • 11% shell
  • 33% yolk
  • 56% white

The egg white consists mainly of water and protein (1).

Because egg whites are a trusted source of muscle-building protein, some people — especially athletes and bodybuilders — drink them. And many prefer to drink them raw.

People also use pasteurized raw eggs in several types of recipes, like hollandaise sauce and salad dressings.

But is it safe to drink raw egg whites? Keep reading to find out.

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Liquid egg whites are usually stored in a carton and can be found in refrigerated sections of grocery stores. Before packaging, liquid egg whites are beaten and pasteurized to reduce bacterial exposure, so they are safe enough to eat.

Whole eggs are available to purchase as well. You can get the egg whites from a whole egg by cracking it and separating the clear liquid goo (the white) from the golden yellow yolk.

Grocery stores also carry pasteurized eggs in the shell, though these products may be more challenging to find.

You should always purchase pasteurized eggs instead of regular eggs if you’re planning to eat them raw. Never eat raw egg whites unless you are certain they have been pasteurized (2).

Summary

Liquid egg whites are available at grocery stores and come in cartons. Raw egg whites come from whole eggs, which may or may not be pasteurized. Make sure these products are pasteurized by checking the labels.

The role of the egg white is to provide nutrition to the chicken embryo and protect it from potentially harmful bacteria (3).

Salmonella is a bacteria associated with raw eggs. Eggs can be exposed to Salmonella during the development of the egg or after the egg is laid. The bacteria can penetrate and invade the whole egg, and this germ can survive the antimicrobial benefits of egg whites (3, 4, 5).

Eating raw or undercooked eggs that carry Salmonella can make you sick. Symptoms typically show up from 6 hours to 6 days after eating contaminated raw or undercooked eggs (6).

Children, older adults, and immunocompromised people are at the highest risk of illness from Salmonella. Severe infections may lead to hospitalization (6).

Salmonella symptoms may include:

  • vomiting
  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramps

Raw eggs aren’t considered safe to eat because they may carry Salmonella. However, you may reduce your risk of getting sick from raw egg whites by choosing pasteurized eggs.

Summary

Raw egg whites may be contaminated with a bacteria called Salmonella. Salmonella can cause mild to severe symptoms that may lead to hospitalization. To reduce exposure, eat fully cooked eggs. If you do eat raw egg whites, choose pasteurized ones.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), pasteurization occurs when eggs are exposed to rapid heat treatments and sustain high temperatures in a specific time frame (6, 7).

Always store your eggs in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or lower to further reduce your risk (6, 7).

If you like to drink egg whites as part of a healthy, nutritious diet, it’s crucial to purchase liquid egg whites that have been pasteurized.

Summary

The process of pasteurization exposes eggs to heat for specified time periods. The safest egg whites to drink raw come from pasteurized products.

One 1/2 cup (120 mL) serving of pasteurized liquid egg whites contains (8):

  • Calories: 54
  • Protein: 11 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Potassium: 152 mg
  • Sodium: 163 mg

Egg whites may provide numerous health benefits, from bone health to cholesterol control.

May keep your bones healthy

Liquid egg whites are loaded with 11 grams of protein in just a 1/2 cup (120 mL) serving. A research summary concluded that adequate amounts of protein are necessary for optimal bone health and growth (9).

Older adults with bone disease experienced less bone loss, fewer bone injuries, and greater bone mineral density when their protein intake was above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 0.36 grams per pound of body weight (0.8 grams per kg) (9).

Offer high quality protein

Amino acids are the basic parts that make up protein, which sustains life through many bodily functions. Egg proteins provide all of the essential amino acids that the body requires but cannot make on its own.

Though plant-based protein sources contain many nutrients, animal-based proteins like egg whites offer protein that’s more readily absorbed by the body (10).

This means that your body may be able to easily use protein from egg whites.

Provide a reliable protein source for those with food allergies

For those with food allergies to cow’s milk protein, soy protein, or nut protein, egg whites make an excellent alternative protein source — without harmful allergic reactions.

Having an alternative source of protein can help you meet the RDA for better health.

If you have an allergy to eggs, avoid eating or drinking eggs.

May lower elevated cholesterol levels

If you’re looking for dietary fat in egg whites, you won’t find any. A 1/2 cup (120 mL) serving of egg whites is free of fat and cholesterol, which promotes heart health.

A study in 88 adults with untreated high cholesterol tested the effects of 4 grams, 6 grams, and 8 grams of egg white protein on total cholesterol. After 8 weeks, total cholesterol levels decreased by 11 points in those given 8 grams of egg white proteins (11).

Cholesterol buildup may cause plaque buildup in the arteries, which may lead to heart disease. So, eating egg whites may help prevent plaque, according to one small study (12).

Keep in mind that more human research is needed.

Support muscle growth

Protein is the most common nutrient that most athletes seek out to help support healthy muscles. Muscle growth, building, and breakdown are greatly supported by eating and exercise (13).

Many studies purport that animal-based protein does a better job at building muscle compared with plant-based proteins, although results are mixed (14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19).

Egg whites are an excellent source of protein with very little fat and very few calories, making them a go-to food for people looking to gain muscle mass.

May help with blood sugar control

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is rich in egg whites (20).

In one older animal study, 42 mice with diabetes were administered 10–20 grams of riboflavin per kilogram of body weight. A control group was left untreated.

In the groups treated with riboflavin, the study found lower fasting blood sugar levels, reduced inflammation, and significant reductions in oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is known to complicate diabetes management (21).

Since this was an animal study, though, more research in humans is needed.

Offer disease-fighting antioxidants

Ovalbumin, ovomucoid, and ovotransferrin are the major proteins found in eggs. They also function as antioxidants.

Natural processes that occur in the body produce free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Both free radicals and ROS cause oxidative stress when they reach unsafe levels — potentially leading to conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer (22).

Ovalbumin, ovomucoid, and ovotransferrin egg white proteins can work to reduce these free radicals and ROS and help prevent diseases. These proteins also provide many amino acids (23, 24).

Summary

Egg whites offer a robust list of benefits including helping maintain bone health, providing essential amino acids, enhancing heart health, supporting muscle growth, managing healthy blood sugars, and preventing diseases.

Egg whites are excellent sources of high quality protein that provide few calories and zero fat. They contain essential amino acids, B vitamins, and a variety of antioxidants that may play major roles in the prevention of diseases like cancer and diabetes.

Protein-rich foods like egg whites can help with muscle growth, which is why they are a popular food among fitness gurus and athletes.

Eating egg whites may have many nutritional benefits. However, they can be harmful if not consumed safely. Always purchase pasteurized egg products, whether they’re whole eggs or liquid egg whites.

Remember that eating raw eggs, including egg whites, increases your risk of foodborne illness from Salmonella.