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This Is the Healthiest Thing to Put On Your Salad

If you've ever stood at the salad bar debating which protein source would make for the healthiest addition to your greens, science finally has an answer. No, it's not the grilled chicken like you might have assumed, it's actually the oft-overlooked hard-boiled egg.

Eating eggs with your veggies is a smart move because it increases the absorption of heart-protecting, cancer-fighting antioxidants (called carotenoids) up to nine fold, according to findings presented at the American Society for Nutrition's Annual Meeting late last week. This is particularly good news if you struggle to meet the five-a-day vegetable recommendation and, therefore, don't consume as many antioxidants.

To come to this finding, researchers served 16 college-aged subjects three different salads. All three beds of greens contained tomatoes, shredded carrots, baby spinach, romaine lettuce and Chinese wolfberry (goji berries). Some of the salads were eggless, while the others were topped with either one and a half or three scrambled eggs. As it turned out, subjects absorbed the most carotenoids from the salads that contained the most eggs.

Although the study was conducted on college students, the researchers believe that people of all ages can benefit from the powerful pairing. Don't be afraid to eat the rich yellow center, either. Yolks contain a fat-fighting nutrient called choline that can aid weight loss efforts, and recent findings suggest that the dietary cholesterol found in the yellows have little effect on blood cholesterol levels, so they're safe to consume regularly.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh