One of the most under-consumed nutrients in the U.S. diet is also one of the most beneficial. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties, yet the average American doesn’t even come close to meeting the minimal requirement.
New research from Purdue University shows how adding one simple food to a salad can increase the amount of vitamin E the body absorbs from greens and other salad ingredients.
The body absorbs vitamin E far better when foods containing vitamin E are eaten along with eggs, the study found. Adding three whole eggs to a salad, according to researcher, Jung Eun Kim, increases the absorption of vitamin E from four to seven times. What makes this study unique is that it is the amount of vitamin E absorbed from foods that was measured, rather than that from supplements, which contain large amounts of the vitamin.
The study builds on the idea that one food can improve the nutritional value of another food when they are eaten together, much like vitamin C-rich foods increase the absorption of iron in other foods consumed at the same meal.
The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E is 15 milligrams (22.4 international units) per day. Green leafy vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin E. Each serving provides anywhere from 15 to 25 percent of the daily requirement. Other foods commonly added to salads, such as seeds, nuts, olives, avocadoes, and oily salad dressings, are also good sources.
Your body doesn’t always absorb all the nutrients you consume, so it’s good to know that there are things you can do to boost absorption, like adding eggs to your salad. Kim's previous research had found that adding eggs to a salad increases the absorption of carotenoids in vegetables by as much as three- to eight-times.
The study is published in The Journal of Nutrition.