Eat Eggs for Diabetes Health

Patient Expert

If you have pre-diabetes, eating eggs can help you avoid getting type 2 diabetes. If you already have it, you can benefit from eating two eggs a day without worsening your cholesterol levels.

These are the conclusions of new studies that The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, one of the world's leading nutrition and dietetics medical journals, published separately this month. The pre-diabetes study, published online on April 1 ahead of print at "Egg consumption and risk of incident type 2 diabetes in men," comes from researchers in Finland. The diabetes study, published in the April issue of the journal at "The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes," comes from researchers in Australia.

Eggs are healthful

For years, eggs have had a bad rap because egg yolks are the highest in cholesterol of any food. But the medical profession has generally come around to the conclusion reached by Berkeley Wellness that dietary cholesterol has relatively little effect on blood cholesterol in most people and that recent research has largely exonerated eggs, suggesting that they provide heart benefits.

Whole eggs are in fact one of nature's most nutritious foods. A medium egg has almost 6 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of carbohydrate, and about 4 grams of fat, most of which is monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, according to the USDA's National Nutrient Database. The protein in eggs is complete, with all of the essential amino acids in the proper proportions, according to NutritionData.

Pre-diabetes study results

"Eggs and especially egg yolks are a rich source of many nutrients that could have a beneficial impact on health," according to the full-text of the new study that shows eggs can reduce the risk of getting pre-diabetes. While only the abstract of this study is free online, Jyrki Virtanen, a certified clinical nutritionist and an adjunct professor of nutritional epidemiology at the University of Eastern Finland, kindly sent me the full-text. "In addition  to high-quality protein, PUFAs, vitamins, and minerals, these nutrients include several bioactive compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties."

Professor Virtanen and his colleagues studied the eating and lifestyle habits of 2,682 men who took part in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study between 1984 and 1989. Two decades later, 432 of them had type 2 diabetes. The study found that eating more eggs was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes as well as with lower blood glucose levels. Those who ate about four eggs a week had a 37 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than the men who ate only about one egg a week.

Diabetes study results

The Australian egg study is a randomized, controlled trial of 140 people who either ate two eggs a day or two eggs a week. After three month, the study found no difference between the groups in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol), triglycerides, or glycemic control. The study concluded that "a high-egg diet can be included safely as part of the dietary management of type 2 diabetes, and it may provide greater satiety."

Personally, my diet includes even more eggs than that in the high-egg diet of the Australian study. But all of the results of my February lipid panel are well within range. Eat more eggs for diabetes health!

See more of my articles about how to manage diabetes:

Healthful Eggs for People with Diabetes

Eggs Improve Cholesterol

Protein Powder for Diabetes