New research from Purdue University reveals that adding eggs to a salad that also contains a variety of raw vegetables is an effective way to improve the absorption of carotenoids. Carotenoids are fat-soluble nutrients that help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
For the study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 16 people consumed at different times a raw mixed vegetable salad with no eggs, a salad with one-and-a-half eggs, and a salad with three eggs. Scrambled eggs were used to make sure that everyone consumed all of the yolk and egg whites.
All of the salads were served with three grams of canola oil. The second salad contained 75 grams of scrambled whole eggs. The third salad contained 150 grams of scrambled whole eggs.
Unique Types Of Carotenoids
One interesting finding is that the absorption of carotenoids was 3.8 fold higher when the salad included three eggs instead of no eggs.
"Eating a salad with a variety of colorful vegetables provides several unique types of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene," said Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science. "The lipid contained in whole eggs enhances the absorption of all these carotenoids. While other egg forms were not tested, we believe the results would be comparable as long as the egg yolk is consumed. The lipids in salad dressings also increase the absorption of carotenoids but it is easy to overuse salad dressings and consume excess calories. Many salad dressings contain about 140 to 160 calories per serving, about two tablespoons. One large whole egg is about 70 calories and provides six grams of protein. People are at a greater risk of putting too many calories on a salad because they don't always know proper portion sizes for salad dressings, but you do know the portion size of an egg."
"Most people do not eat enough vegetables in their diets, and at the same time, people are consuming salad dressings that have less fat or are fat-free," added Jung Eun Kim, a postdoctoral researcher in Purdue's Department of Nutrition Science. "Our research findings support that people obtained more of the health-promoting carotenoids from raw vegetables when cooked whole eggs were also consumed. Eggs, a nutrient-rich food containing essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins, may be used to increase the nutritive value of vegetables, which are under consumed by the majority of people living in the United States."