Effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from co-consumed, raw vegetables

Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Jul;102(1):75-83. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.111062. Epub 2015 May 27.


Background: Dietary lipids are one of the most effective stimulators of carotenoid absorption, but very limited data exist on the impact of endogenous food sources of lipids to enhance carotenoid absorption. The co-consumption of whole egg with carotenoid-rich foods may increase overall carotenoid absorption via lipid-rich egg yolk.

Objective: We designed this study to assess the effects of egg consumption on carotenoid absorption from a carotenoid-rich, raw mixed-vegetable salad.

Design: Healthy young men (n = 16) consumed the same salad (all served with 3 g canola oil) with no egg (control), 75 g scrambled whole eggs (1.5 eggs) [low egg (LE)], and 150 g scrambled whole eggs (3 eggs) [high egg (HE)] (a randomized crossover design). Control, LE, and HE meals contained 23 mg, 23.4 mg (0.4 mg from eggs), and 23.8 mg (0.8 mg from eggs) total carotenoids and 3 g, 10.5 g (7.5 g from eggs), and 18 g (15 g from eggs) total lipids, respectively. Blood was collected hourly for 10 h, and the triacylglycerol-rich lipoprotein (TRL) fraction was isolated. Total and individual carotenoid contents, including lutein, zeaxanthin , α-carotene, β-carotene, and lycopene in TRL were analyzed, and composite areas under the curve (AUCs) were calculated.

Results: The total mean (±SE) carotenoid AUC0-10h in TRL was higher for the HE meal than for LE and control meals [125.7 ± 19.4(a) compared with 44.8 ± 9.2(b) compared with 14.9 ± 5.2(b) nmol/L · 10 h, respectively (values without a common superscript letter differ); P < 0.0001]. The TRL AUC(0-10h) of lutein and zeaxanthin increased 4-5-fold (P < 0.001), and the TRL AUC(0-10h) of carotenoid not present in eggs, including α-carotene, β-carotene, and lycopene, increased 3-8-fold (P < 0.01) for the HE meal compared with the control meal.

Conclusion: These findings support the claim that co-consuming cooked whole eggs is an effective way to enhance carotenoid absorption from other carotenoid-rich foods such as a raw mixed-vegetable salad. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01951313.

Keywords: carotenoid absorption; eggs; triacylglycerol absorption; triacylglycerol rich lipoprotein fraction; vegetable salad.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carotenoids / blood
  • Carotenoids / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cooking
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Eggs*
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Lutein / blood
  • Lutein / pharmacokinetics*
  • Lycopene
  • Male
  • Postprandial Period
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Vegetables*
  • Young Adult
  • Zeaxanthins / blood
  • Zeaxanthins / pharmacokinetics*
  • beta Carotene / blood
  • beta Carotene / pharmacokinetics*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Monounsaturated
  • Rapeseed Oil
  • Triglycerides
  • Zeaxanthins
  • beta Carotene
  • Carotenoids
  • alpha-carotene
  • Cholesterol
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01951313