Background: Lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of dry, age-related macular degeneration because of their photo-oxidative role as macular pigment.
Objective: The present study evaluated serum lutein, zeaxanthin, and macular pigment optical density (MPOD) responses at 0.25 degrees , 0.5 degrees , and 1 degree retinal eccentricities to the consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks/d by older adults taking cholesterol-lowering medications.
Design: Subjects consumed foods containing 2 followed by 4 egg yolks/d for 5 wk each with a 4-wk egg-free period at baseline and between the 2 interventions.
Results: Changes in MPOD (n = 37) with egg yolk consumption were inversely associated (P < 0.05) with baseline MPOD. Subjects with low-baseline MPOD (defined as MPOD < or =0.5 at 0.25 degrees , < or =0.4 at 0.5 degrees , and < or =0.35 at 1 degrees ) showed increases of < or =50% (P < 0.05) with 4 egg yolks at the 3 retinal eccentricities. MPOD increased by 31% (P = 0.059) at 0.5 degrees with 2 egg yolks. Serum lutein increased by only 16% and 24% (P < 0.05) compared with increases of 36% and 82% (P < 0.001) in serum zeaxanthin (n = 52) after consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks, respectively. Serum HDL cholesterol increased by 5% (P < 0.05) after consumption of 2 and 4 egg yolks. Serum LDL cholesterol did not change with either egg yolk treatment.
Conclusions: Consumption of 4 egg yolks/d, and possibly of 2 egg yolks/d, for 5 wk benefited macular health in older adults with low MPOD. Serum HDL cholesterol increased without an increase in LDL cholesterol in this study population, most of whom were taking cholesterol-lowering statins.