December 14/Storrs-Mansfield, Conn./Red Orbit -- Adding whole eggs as part of a weight loss diet may have positive effects all around, but particularly if one suffers from metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of at least three of the following factors: a large waistline, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure and elevated blood sugar.

Individuals experiencing this condition have a variety of risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but the latest research published in the journal Metabolism suggests adding eggs to the diet could help avoid these.

For the recent study, researchers looked at middle-aged men and women with metabolic syndrome who consumed either three whole eggs or an equivalent amount of egg substitute daily.

Although participants eating the whole eggs were consuming twice as much cholesterol as they had at the beginning of the study, researchers found no effects on total blood cholesterol after 12 weeks on the diet. All of the participants, including those consuming whole eggs, had improved lipid profiles with decreases in plasma triglycerides and increases in HDL cholesterol.

“Eating egg yolks was actually associated with enhanced health benefits in these high-risk individuals,” Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez, lead study author and Professor at the University of Connecticut, said in a statement. “Subjects consuming whole eggs had greater increases in HDL cholesterol and more significant reductions in the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio than those who ate the cholesterol-free egg substitute.”

According to a report by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, eggs have 14% less cholesterol and 64% more vitamin D than previously thought. One large egg provides varying amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, including nutrients that aren’t found in other foods. The yolk contains many of these nutrients, which are antioxidants that may prevent macular degeneration and consequent age-related blindness.

Although eggs only contain small amounts of these nutrients, researchers indicate that lutein and zeaxanthin from eggs may be more bioavailable than from more concentrated sources like supplements.

According to another study published in Food and Function, daily consumption of egg yolks was associated with increase in plasma lutein, zeaxanthin and ß-carotene in people with metabolic syndrome.