Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Obviously, eggs add protein, fat, nutrients and taste — plus a dash of contrasting color — to a green salad, but it turns out they do even more than that. According to a new clinical study, whole eggs on a salad also help people better absorb the nutrients from the raw veggies. Salad is better with eggs.
The study from Purdue University found that the lipids in the eggs — that is, the fatty acids — increased the absorption of the carotenoids from a variety of vegetables. While the fats in salad dressings would also increase carotenoid absorption, eggs do it with considerable nutritional panache.
A couple important caveats are in order. First, the study (published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition as “Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables” ) was partly funded by the American Egg Board-Egg Nutrition Center. Second, it was a small clinical study, focusing on just 16 “healthy young men.”
In the course of the study, the 16 young men each consumed three different test meals. For each meal, the salad mix was the same. In one case, the salad was served with canola oil but no eggs. In the other two cases, the salad was topped with 75 grams of scrambled whole eggs or with 150 grams of scrambled whole eggs. After each meal, the subjects had their blood for a period of 10 hours. The key finding was that absorption of carotenoids from the vegetables was 3-8 fold greater after the high-egg mean than after the no-egg meal. Hence the study’s conclusion: “co-consuming cooked whole eggs is an effective way to enhance carotenoid absorption from other carotenoid-rich foods such as a raw mixed-vegetable salad.”
The study used scrambled eggs in order to guarantee that the subjects consumed both the egg whites and egg yolk. However, researchers believe that other forms of eggs would work as long as the yolks were consumed.
My preference has been hard-boiled eggs on a salad, but I am open to some experimentation.
It’s a small study of a limited population, but encouraging for egg and salad lovers everywhere.