Some foods just work better as a team, especially when the pairing forms a synergy that boosts your health.
A study published online earlier this year in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (May 27, doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.111062) by Purdue University researchers showed that adding eggs to a salad with a variety of raw vegetables is an effective way to improve absorption of carotenoids, fat-soluble nutrients that reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Eating a salad with a variety of colorful vegetables provides several types of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene, explains Wayne Campbell, a professor of nutrition science. "The lipid contained in whole eggs enhances the absorption of all these carotenoids."
In the study, 16 participants consumed a raw mixed-vegetable salad with no eggs, a salad with 1.5 eggs, and a salad with three eggs at different times. All salads were served with 3 grams of canola oil. The second salad had 75 g of scrambled whole eggs and the third had 150 g of scrambled whole eggs. Carotenoid absorption was 3.8-fold higher when the salad included three eggs versus none. The study used scrambled eggs to make sure participants consumed both the yolk and the egg whites.
"While other egg forms were not tested, we believe the results would be comparable as long as the egg yolk is consumed," said Campbell, whose research has also looked at salads with different amounts of soybean oil, canola oil and butter. "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 140-160 calories per serving, about two tablespoons. One large whole egg is about 70 calories and provides 6 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."
The American Egg Board-Egg Nutrition Center, the National Institutes of Health and the Purdue Ingestive Behavior Research Center funded the research.