July 3, 2019

Get more from your salads with the help of eggs!

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

We all have our favourite food pairings. Some people like peanut butter and jelly, while others favour that famous comfort food combo of macaroni and cheese. But my favourite food pairing is a little bit more obscure – it’s eggs and salad, and today I’m going to tell you why these work so well together.

Taste is paramount, and there’s always good flavour when you make smart pairings, such as in our Canadian Nicoise salad that features hard-boiled eggs, trout, tomato and green beans. But my reason for loving the duo of eggs and salads also has to do with health and wellness. It turns out that that the nutrients in eggs help your body absorb the antioxidants and fat-soluble vitamins in the salad’s vegetables. Yes, adding eggs makes salads even healthier because it boosts nutrient absorption!

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at whether the fat in egg yolk could help the body absorb antioxidants called carotenoids, which are found in leafy greens and orange vegetables such as carrots. Carotenoids are not always well-absorbed, so they need to be served with the right foods. When properly absorbed, carotenoids are known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and may protect against cardiovascular disease, age-related macular degeneration, and some types of cancer.

In this study, young male participants were given one of three salads. The base control salad contained tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce and goji berries. Then eggs were added to two test salads as below:

- Control salad with no egg

- Salad with 75 g egg (1.5 eggs)

- Salad with 150 g egg (3 eggs)

Blood samples were collected to see if carotenoid levels changed after eating one of the salads. The researchers found that those who ate the 3-egg salad had three-fold to nine-fold increased absorption of carotenoids including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Those that ate 1.5 eggs also had better carotenoid absorption compared to those who ate the salad without eggs.

The researchers concluded that “ the absorption of carotenoids contained in carotenoid-rich foods such as raw-vegetable salads can be effectively enhanced by co-consuming cooked whole eggs .” A great pairing indeed!

This study used scrambled eggs to ensure that participants ate the egg yolk (with hard-boiled eggs, some people only eat the egg whites). But note, as long as you eat the fat-containing yolks, any style of eggs can help boost carotenoid absorption!

In a different study published in the Journal of Nutrition , the same researchers noted that many people under-consume vitamin E, and wanted to test whether adding eggs to salads could help people absorb more of this fat-soluble vitamin. They consumed one of the same three salads described above, and the authors found that adding cooked eggs to salad is an effective way to boost vitamin E absorption. Specifically, vitamin E absorption up to 7.5-fold higher when the salad was consumed with 3 whole eggs.

So there you have it – that’s why I love pairing eggs with my salads. Next time you’re tossing together a salad that contains leafy greens, tomatoes or carrots, add some whole eggs to enhance the value of the vegetables.

Here are some recipes to help you get started adding eggs to veggie dishes:

Margaret Hudson

President, Burnbrae Farms