Topical Area: Aging and Chronic Disease, Nutrition Translation. Nutrient-Gene Interactions, Carotenoids and Retinoids (CARIG)
Objectives : Childhood is a critical time for regular intake of high-quality nutrients to aid developing brains. Dietary protein and fat independently and additively enhance cognitive performance in adults, however there are limited studies in children. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of whole eggs and its components (egg whites [protein-rich, fat-free] vs. egg yolks [containing protein and essential fatty acids]) on cognitive performance, glycemic response, and subjective appetite in children.
Methods : Using a randomized within-subject repeated-measures design, 19 children (age: 12.2 ± 0.4 years) completed five test conditions, at least seven days apart. Following the consumption of a standardized breakfast 3h prior to arriving at the laboratory, children consumed one of the following treatments: whole eggs (147 kcal), egg yolks (112 kcal), egg whites (35 kcal), full fat yogurt (147 kcal), or continued to fast. Cognitive performance, blood glucose, and subjective appetite were assessed at baseline and 15, 30, 60, and 90-min post-treatment. A battery of cognitive performance tests assessed attention, learning and memory, executive functioning, and spatial working memory.
Results : Word recall (learning and memory) was higher after egg yolks (Δ=1.7 ± 0.6 words; p=0.03) compared with egg whites. Change from baseline cognitive processing test scores (attention) were significantly higher (p< 0.05) after egg yolks by 1.11, 1.25, and 1.21 trials compared with whole eggs, egg whites, and yogurt, respectively. Change from baseline subjective average appetite was lower after yogurt compared with snack skipping (Δ=9.7 ± 2.9 mm; p=0.01). Change from baseline blood glucose was lower after yogurt compared with egg yolks (p=0.001) and egg whites (p=0.01); and blood glucose was lower after whole eggs compared with egg yolks (p=0.02).
Conclusions : Egg yolks resulted in higher short-term learning and memory scores compared with egg whites, and attention was higher after egg yolks compared with egg whites, whole eggs and yogurt. In conclusion, consumption of egg yolks may be beneficial for supporting cognitive performance in children.
Funding Sources : Egg Nutrition Center
Julia Totosy de Zepetnek
University of Regina