It may be high time to conquer your fear of egg yolks. Growing evidence shows there is a great deal of nutritious value found in the yellowy center of an egg. A report from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has found that consuming cooked whole eggs along with raw vegetables can help increase the human body’s absorption of carotenoids.

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, carotenoids are yellow, orange, and red pigments synthesized by plants that are often associated with a reduced risk for heart disease and certain types of cancer due to possible antioxidant effects. The most common carotenoids found in the average American diet include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene.

"Americans underconsume vegetables, and here we have a way to increase the nutritive value of veggies while also receiving the nutritional benefits of egg yolks," Dr. Wayne Campbell, professor of nutrition science at Purdue University, said in a statement.

Campbell and his colleague, Dr. Jung Eun Kim, recruited 16 healthy young men who consumed three versions of a raw mixed-vegetable salad: one with no egg, one with 1.5 scrambled whole eggs, and one with three scrambled whole eggs. Other salad ingredients included tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce, and Chinese wolfberry.

The research team assessed what effect egg consumption had on the absorption of carotenoids, including beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Participants who consumed a raw mixed-vegetable salad with three scrambled whole eggs increased their body’s absorption of carotenoids three- to nine-fold, “a very significant effect,” according to Campbell.

"Next time you visit a salad bar, consider adding the cooked egg to your raw veggies," Campbell added. "Not only are lutein and zeaxanthin available through whole eggs, but now the value of the vegetables is enhanced."

A similar study published in Pediatrics found that consuming vegetables rich in carotenoids, such as kale, spinach, melons, and yams, can help prevent benign breast disease, a variety of noncancerous conditions of the breast. An analysis of 6,600 girls, 122 of which were diagnosed with benign breast disease, revealed potential antioxidant properties in carotenoid-rich vegetables that can benefit breast health.

Source: Kim J, Campbell W. Consuming eggs with raw vegetables increases nutritive value. American Society for Nutrition's Annual Meeting during Experimental Biology. 2015.