Get cracking: Eggs may help prevent heart disease and cancer

By Michel Proulx

(Medical Xpress) -- One of nature’s most perfect foods may be even better for us than previously thought.

While eggs are well known to be an excellent source of proteins, lipids, vitamins and minerals, researchers at the University of Alberta recently discovered they also contain , which help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Jianping Wu, Andreas Schieber and graduate students Chamila Nimalaratne and Daise Lopes-Lutz examined egg yolks produced by hens fed typical diets of either primarily wheat or corn. They found the yolks contained two amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, which have high antioxidant properties.

After analyzing the properties, the researchers determined that two egg yolks in their raw state have almost twice as many antioxidant properties as an apple and about the same as half a serving (25 grams) of cranberries.

However, when the eggs were fried or boiled, antioxidant properties were reduced by about half, and a little more than half if the eggs were cooked in a microwave.

“It’s a big reduction but it still leaves eggs equal to apples in their antioxidant value,” said Wu.

The discovery of these two amino acids, while important, may only signify the beginning of finding antioxidant properties in egg yolks, says Wu.

“Ultimately, we’re trying to map antioxidants in egg yolks so we have to look at all of the properties in the yolks that could contain antioxidants, as well as how the eggs are ingested,” said Wu, adding that he and his team will examine the other type of antioxidant already know to be in eggs, carotenoids, the yellow pigment in egg yolk, as well as peptides.

In previous research, Wu found that egg proteins were converted by enzymes in the stomach and small intestines and produced peptides that act the same way as ACE inhibitors, prescriptions drugs that are used to lower high blood pressure.

That finding defied common wisdom and contradicted the public perception that eggs increased high blood pressure because of their high cholesterol content. Additional research by Wu suggests the peptides can be formulated to help prevent and treat hypertension.

Wu is convinced the peptides also have some antioxidant properties, which leads him to suggest that when he completes the next step in his research, the result will likely be that have more antioxidant properties than we currently know.

The findings were published in the peer-reviewed journal Food Chemistry.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Beijing bans red-yolk duck eggs

Nov 14, 2006

Health officials in China say ducks that produce some red-yolk salted eggs are being fed a cancer-causing chemical to create the color.

Honeydew honeys are better antioxidants than nectar honeys

Feb 22, 2007

A study of 36 Spanish honeys from different floral origins revealed that honeys generated by bees feeding on honeydew have greater antioxidant properties than those produced by bees feeding on nectar. The study is published ...

Recommended for you

We drink more alcohol on gym days

5 hours ago

A new Northwestern Medicine study finds that on days when people exercise more—typically Thursdays to Sundays—they drink more alcohol, too.

Obesity and stress pack a double hit for health

10 hours ago

If you're overweight, you may be at greater risk for stress-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer, according to a new study by Brandeis University.

User comments