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Eggs given all clear for type 2 diabetes

4 August 2015
Eggs could be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, according to new Charles Perkins Centre research

University of Sydney research reveals eggs are not detrimental and could be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.

Eggs and asparagus

Eggs are not dangerous in the context of a healthy diet, according to researchers [image: ned the head/Flickr]

Led by Dr Nick Fuller from the University’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders at the Charles Perkins Centre, the research found no difference in cardiovascular risk factors in people on a high-egg diet compared with those on a low-egg diet.

“With the rising prevalence of type 2 diabetes, there is an urgent need to provide clear messages for both its treatment and prevention,” Dr Fuller said.

“Previous research has produced conflicting results, which has led authorities to recommend people with type 2 diabetes to limit their consumption of eggs.

“However, our findings show that eggs are not dangerous in the context of a healthy diet, and that people with type 2 diabetes could actually benefit from eating them, as eggs are a nutritious and convenient way of improving intake of protein and micronutrients like carotenoids (for eye health), arginine (for healthy blood vessels), and folate (for healthy pregnancies and heart health).

“We also found people on a high-egg diet were less likely to feel hungry after breakfast, so eggs could have an important role in weight management. However, this would need to be confirmed in longer follow-up studies,” he said.

Based on the increasing body of evidence, including Dr Fuller’s research, the US government recently changed its dietary guidelines to lift limits on dietary cholesterol, acknowledging that ‘cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption’.

Despite being vilified for decades, dietary cholesterol is understood to be far less detrimental to health than scientists originally thought. The effect of cholesterol in our food on the level of cholesterol in our blood is actually quite small.
Dr Nick Fuller, Charles Perkins Centre and Boden Institute

“Despite being vilified for decades, dietary cholesterol is understood to be far less detrimental to health than scientists originally thought. The effect of cholesterol in our food on the level of cholesterol in our blood is actually quite small. We now know that saturated and trans-fat elicit much stronger effects, and therefore are the major contributors to the increasing levels of cholesterol in our blood,” Dr Fuller said.  

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the randomised controlled study compared a high-egg diet (two eggs a day for six days a week) with a low-egg diet (less than two eggs per week) in people with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes. Dr Fuller and his team measured the effect of these diets over three months on cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors.

The study found no significant difference in levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (good cholesterol) between the two groups. Both groups were matched for protein intake, but the high-egg group reported less hunger and greater satiety after breakfast.

“Our research suggests that a high-egg diet - as part of a diet replacing ‘bad’ with ‘good’ fats - can be included safely as part of the dietary management of type 2 diabetes,” Dr Fuller said.