Background: Carbohydrate restricted diets (CRD) consistently lower glucose and insulin levels and improve atherogenic dyslipidemia [decreasing triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol (HDL-C)]. We have previously shown that male subjects following a CRD experienced significant increases in HDL-C only if they were consuming a higher intake of cholesterol provided by eggs compared to those individuals who were taking lower concentrations of dietary cholesterol. Here, as a follow up of our previous study, we examined the effects of eggs (a source of both dietary cholesterol and lutein) on adiponectin, a marker of insulin sensitivity, and on inflammatory markers in the context of a CRD.
Methods: Twenty eight overweight men [body mass index (BMI) 26-37 kg/m2] aged 40-70 y consumed an ad libitum CRD (% energy from CHO:fat:protein = 17:57:26) for 12 wk. Subjects were matched by age and BMI and randomly assigned to consume eggs (EGG, n = 15) (640 mg additional cholesterol/day provided by eggs) or placebo (SUB, n = 13) (no additional dietary cholesterol). Fasting blood samples were drawn before and after the intervention to assess plasma lipids, insulin, adiponectin and markers of inflammation including C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-8 (IL-8), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1), intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1(VCAM-1).
Results: Body weight, percent total body fat and trunk fat were reduced for all subjects after 12 wk (P < 0.0001). Increases in adiponectin were also observed (P < 0.01). Subjects in the EGG group had a 21% increase in this adipokine compared to a 7% increase in the SUB group (P < 0.05). Plasma CRP was significantly decreased only in the EGG group (P < 0.05). MCP-1 levels were decreased for the SUB group (P < 0.001), but unchanged in the EGG group. VCAM-1, ICAM-1, TNF-alpha, and IL-8 were not modified by CRD or eggs.
Conclusion: A CRD with daily intake of eggs decreased plasma CRP and increased plasma adiponectin compared to a CRD without eggs. These findings indicate that eggs make a significant contribution to the anti-inflammatory effects of CRD, possibly due to the presence of cholesterol, which increases HDL-C and to the antioxidant lutein which modulates certain inflammatory responses.