Intake of up to 3 Eggs per Day Is Associated with Changes in HDL Function and Increased Plasma Antioxidants in Healthy, Young Adults

J Nutr. 2017 Mar;147(3):323-329. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.241877. Epub 2017 Jan 11.


Background: HDL function may be more important than HDL concentration in determining risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition, HDL is a carrier of carotenoids and antioxidant enzymes, which protect HDL and LDL particles against oxidation.Objective: The goal of this study was to determine the impact of consuming 0-3 eggs/d on LDL and HDL particle size, HDL function, and plasma antioxidants in a young, healthy population.Methods: Thirty-eight healthy men and women [age 18-30 y, body mass index (in kg/m2) 18.5-29.9] participated in this 14-wk crossover intervention. Subjects underwent a 2-wk washout (0 eggs/d) followed by sequentially increasing intake of 1, 2, and 3 eggs/d for 4 wk each. After each period, fasting blood was collected for analysis of lipoprotein subfractions, plasma apolipoprotein (apo) concentration, lutein and zeaxanthin concentration, and activities of lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase, cholesteryl ester transfer protein, and paraoxonase-1.Results: Compared with intake of 0 eggs/d, consuming 1-3 eggs/d resulted in increased large-LDL (21-37%) and large-HDL (6-13%) particle concentrations, plasma apoAI (9-15%), and lecithin-cholesterol acyltransferase activity (5-15%) (P < 0.05 for all biomarkers). Intake of 2-3 eggs/d also promoted an 11% increase in apoAII (P < 0.05) and a 20-31% increase in plasma lutein and zeaxanthin (P < 0.05), whereas intake of 3 eggs/d resulted in a 9-16% increase in serum paraoxonase-1 activity compared with intake of 1-2 eggs/d (P < 0.05). Egg intake did not affect cholesteryl ester transfer protein activity.Conclusions: Intake of 1 egg/d was sufficient to increase HDL function and large-LDL particle concentration; however, intake of 2-3 eggs/d supported greater improvements in HDL function as well as increased plasma carotenoids. Overall, intake of ≤3 eggs/d favored a less atherogenic LDL particle profile, improved HDL function, and increased plasma antioxidants in young, healthy adults. This trial was registered at as NCT02531958.

Keywords: HDL function; eggs; healthy population; lecithin cholesterol acyltransferase; paraoxonase-1; plasma carotenoids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Apolipoproteins / blood
  • Apolipoproteins / metabolism
  • Aryldialkylphosphatase / genetics
  • Aryldialkylphosphatase / metabolism
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / physiology
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet*
  • Eggs*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Antioxidants
  • Apolipoproteins
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Aryldialkylphosphatase
  • PON1 protein, human

Associated data