Why you should add an egg to your salad

Why you should add an egg to your salad

Adding an egg to that salad improves the absorption of carotenoids, according to a new study from Purdue University.

In a study group of 16 participants, the absorption of carotenoids was 3.8-fold higher when the participant’s salad included three eggs compared to no eggs. Carotenoids are antioxidants that can reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and eye degeneration.

“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, in a news release. “The lipid contained in whole eggs enhances the absorption of all these carotenoids.”

Carotenoids are commonly mentioned when talking about superfoods, or those that act as a disease-fighting antioxidant. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, foods high in carotenoids include red, orange, deep yellow and some dark green leafy vegetables.

“There have been other studies concluding that there is greater absorption of carotenoids when salads were consumed with full fat instead of reduced fat salad dressings,” said Sandra Gifford, registered dietitian at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill. “Including an egg with a salad provides a protein source to make the meal balanced and may have increased benefits when it comes to carotenoids.”


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  1. 3 eggs? Do they mean 3 slices of egg like shown in the picture, or three whole eggs? That is a lot of egg to have in a salad!

    • Lynn Hutley

      For the purpose of the study, they used scrambled eggs (so that participants would be sure to get the yolk and the white) and I think they mean 3 whole eggs. I agree that is more than I want to eat. Perhaps further study would show how effective a smaller amount would be. There is a link to the study information in the article.

  2. Let’s see a bigger study with a lot more than 16 participants!!!!

  3. Jay:
    I’m with you on this one.
    Only 16 participants? I can’t believe that anybody would even publish a so called “study” with that few.

  4. Dr. Ashwani Garg
    Ashwani Garg MD June 9, 2015 at 4:20 pm · Reply

    I would follow the money on this study: “This research is published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and is funded by the American Egg Board-Egg Nutrition Center, National Institutes of Health and Purdue Ingestive Behavior Research Center.”

    Eggs are definitely not a great thing to consume right now with greater awareness of the filthy and less than humane conditions that these hens are raised in. Why do you think there’s a big outbreak of bird flu right now among hens? Most eggs are contaminated with pathogenic organisms such as salmonella. Even though you may cook it, the bacterial toxins remain inside the egg. Estrogens are present in eggs as well as dairy foods that have human properties. Also did you know that male chicks are promptly ground up, gassed to death or suffocated as soon as they are born as part of the egg production operation? Be aware of what you are eating! See http://www.pcrm.org/nbBlog/index.php/tag/eggs/

    I would agree that fat is needed with carotenoids to increase absorption, however eggs and even oil are not the best source. Turn to Dr. Joel Fuhrman for some wonderful wisdom. Salad can be consumed with plant-based fats such as avocado, seeds / nuts, soynuts, hempseeds, dressings made fresh with seeds/nuts, as well as beans, olives, etc. These foods are nutrient dense and satisfying and get the job done. https://www.drfuhrman.com/library/salad-main-dish.aspx These plant based options are all humane, hygienic, and healthy!

    • Sure, the avocados are good, but they may not have the same lipids as eggs. I see no problem with eggs from organically fed hens that don’t receive growth hormones. Not all of us are vegetarians, nor will that change (but that’s a discussion for another time).

      • Dr. Ashwani Garg
        Ashwani Garg MD June 12, 2015 at 4:17 am

        I agree that not everyone can become vegetarian and up until recently, I ate eggs, meat and dairy as well. Being healthy is not about being veg or non-veg but rather the specific foods that you choose. Generally, Americans are deficient in fiber and plants. There is no meat, cheese, egg deficiency although industry would have you believe there is. 97% of Americans get enough protein but only 3% eat enough fiber for health. Therefore, for a health system’s health blog to advocate the eating of eggs based on a very small study funded by the egg board, in the face of overwhelming evidence of cholesterol being harmful, is not right. As far as lipids go, if you compare the same quantity, avocados are in fact very similar to eggs. 2 eggs will contain roughly the same calories as 1/2 an avocado, but the avocado has 7 gm of fiber, higher amounts of monounsaturated fat, and lower amount of saturated fat, and absolutely no cholesterol. A more fair comparison for the study above would be to compare consumption of 1/2 an avocado with a salad to 2 eggs on the salad. But you will never see that kind of study conducted by the egg board. From existing information, I advocate for the avocado and some nuts with your salad. I agree that the humane issues are another topic for another day, however organic, cage free farms still grind up the male chicks and “debeak” the female ones. I would encourage someone to contact their egg supplier and get details of their practices. The pictures in our minds of the free roaming chickens on grassy fields are quite different from reality. As far as the hormones in an egg, my concern is also with organic eggs because in any egg laying animal, sex steroids are transferred to the egg and are measurable in the egg yolks. These steroids are present in order to provide for the developing bird. Even if there is no drugging or manipulation, sex steroids are transferred from the mother to the egg (or to animal milk). No sex steroids in an avocado.

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.