We previously reported that carbohydrate restriction (CR) (10-15% en) during a weight loss intervention lowered plasma triglycerides (TG) by 45% in male subjects (P<.001). However, those subjects with a higher intake of cholesterol provided by eggs (640 mg additional cholesterol, EGG group) had higher concentrations of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (P<.0001) than the individuals consuming lower amounts (0 mg of additional cholesterol, SUB group). The objectives of the present study were to evaluate whether CR and egg intake (1) modulate circulating carotenoids and (2) affect the concentrations of plasma apolipoproteins (apo), lipoprotein size and subfraction distribution. CR decreased the number of large and medium very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol subclasses (P<.001), while small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) were reduced (P<.001). In agreement with these observations, a decrease in apo B (P<.01) was observed. In addition, CR resulted in a 133% increase in apo C-II and a 65% decrease in apo C-III (P<.0001). Although an increase of the larger LDL subclass was observed for all subjects, the EGG group had a greater increase (P<.05). The EGG group also presented a higher number of large HDL particles (P<.01) compared to the SUB group. Regarding carotenoids, CR resulted in no changes in dietary or plasma alpha- or beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin, while there was a significant reduction in both dietary and plasma lycopene (P<.001). In contrast, dietary lutein and zeaxanthin were increased during the intervention (P<.05). However, only those subjects from the EGG group presented higher concentrations of these two carotenoids in plasma, which were correlated with the higher concentrations of large LDL observed in the EGG group. These results indicate that CR favorably alters VLDL metabolism and apolipoprotein concentrations, while the components of the egg yolk favor the formation of larger LDL and HDL leading to an increase in plasma lutein and zeaxanthin.
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