A Purdue University research team has found that adding whole eggs to a colorful salad boosts the amount of vitamin E the body absorbs from the vegetables.
Vitamin E, a fat-soluble nutrient that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is the second-most under-consumed nutrient in the average American diet. A higher intake of vitamin E from foods is also thought to guard against Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers found that vitamin E absorption was 4- to 7-fold higher when three whole eggs were added to a salad.
Food sources of vitamin E
Vitamin E, which is absorbed along with dietary fats, is often found in oils, seeds and nuts. Excellent sources include almonds, hazelnuts, wheat germ oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil and peanut butter. It’s also found in frozen spinach and a little is in leafy green vegetables such as kale.
Eggs, a nutrient-rich food containing essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins, also contain a small amount of vitamin E.
This study accounted for how much total vitamin E was absorbed when vitamin E containing foods were co-consumed with whole eggs.
This research supports a way to increase the absorption of vitamin E found in foods that are low in fat. The findings also highlight how one food can improve the nutrition value of another when they are consumed together.
Eggs also enhance beta-carotene absorption
This research to earlier findings from the researchers that adding eggs to a salad also increased absorption of the vegetables' carotenoids, fat soluble antioxidants.
Both studies were small. The researchers had 16 participants consume a raw mixed-vegetable salad with no eggs, a salad with one and a half eggs, and a salad with three eggs. All salads were served with three grams of canola oil (less than a teaspoon), and the eggs were served scrambled to ensure the whole egg was consumed.
In the 2015 study, the absorption of carotenoids -- including alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene -- was 3- to 8-fold higher when the salad included three eggs compared to no eggs.
Source: Journal of Nutrition, September 21, 2016.
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