The Secret to Making Your Salads Healthier

   |  Updated: June 06, 2015 19:48 IST

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The Secret to Making Your Salads Healthier
A fresh and hearty salad is the best meal for summers. There’s no doubt that salads are a great option for those looking to switch to healthy eating, but experts have now revealed how to derive the best nutrition from those lovely greens – put an egg on it. The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and it suggests that adding eggs to your salads along with a variety of raw vegetables is an effective method to improve the absorption of carotenoids, which are fat-soluble nutrients that help reduce inflammation. Simply put, adding eggs to your salads can help you absorb more nutrients from the veggies.

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Carotenoids are colorful plant pigments that convert to Vitamin A in your body. Since your body cannot produce vitamin A it is essential that you derive the same from the food that you eat. Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant that is known to improve your immunity and prevent heart diseases and also some forms of cancer.

According to Wayne Campbell, Professor of Nutrition Science at Purdue University in the United States, "Eating a salad with a variety of colorful vegetables provides several unique types of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene. The lipid contained in whole eggs enhances the absorption of all these carotenoids.”

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For the study, participants consumed a raw mixed-vegetable salad with no eggs, a salad with one and a half eggs, and a salad with three eggs at different times. All salads were served with three grams of canola oil.

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The second salad had 75 grams of scrambled whole eggs and the third 150 grams of scrambled whole eggs. The study used scrambled eggs to make sure the participants consumed both the yolk and egg whites.

By testing the participant’s blood, researchers discovered that those who ate the salads with eggs had higher levels of carotenoids in their system. It was found that the absorption of carotenoids was 3.8-fold higher when the salad included three eggs compared to no eggs. The effect was particularly higher when they consumed three eggs with their salad, but researchers recommend that two eggs should be enough for such an effect.

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Why eggs?

The answer lies in the fat in the yolk. A lot of previous studies have also spoken about eating fat and vegetables in combination. Eating vegetables with a little bit of fat helps in better absorption of nutrients. This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble compounds and fat helps them enter the blood stream easily. Researchers chose eggs because they felt it was a common salad topping used in Western countries but you can include an oil-based salad dressing or cheese. This will also help you absorb other nutrients like beta-carotene and lycopene.

“Most people do not eat enough vegetables in their diets, and at the same time, people are consuming salad dressings that have less fat or are fat-free. Our research findings support that people obtained more of the health-promoting carotenoids from raw vegetables when cooked whole eggs were also consumed. Eggs contain essential amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids and B vitamins and may be used to increase the nutritive value of vegetables.” said Jung Eun Kim, Postdoctoral Researcher at Purdue University.

With inputs from IANS.

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