Intake of antioxidants through diet is known to be important in reducing oxidative damage in cells and improving human health. Although eggs are known for their exceptional, nutritional quality, they are not generally considered as antioxidant foods. This review aims to establish the importance of eggs as an antioxidant food by summarizing the current knowledge on egg-derived antioxidants. Eggs have various natural occurring compounds including the proteins ovalbumin, ovotransferrin and lysozyme in egg white, as well as phosvitin, carotenoids and free aromatic amino acids in egg yolk. Some lipophilic antioxidants such as vitamin E, carotenoids, selenium, iodine and others can be transferred from feed into egg yolk to produce antioxidant-enriched eggs. The bioactivity of egg antioxidants can be affected by food processing, storage and gastrointestinal digestion. Generally thermal processing methods can promote loss of antioxidant properties in eggs due to oxidation and degradation, whereas gastrointestinal digestion enhances the antioxidant properties, due to the formation of new antioxidants (free amino acids and peptides). In summary, in addition to its well-known nutritional contribution to our diet, this review emphasizes the role of eggs as an important antioxidant food.
Keywords: antioxidant-enriched eggs; gastrointestinal digestion; hen eggs; naturally-occurring antioxidants; processing.