How healthy eggs really are has, over the years, been a subject of some contention.  

For example, while the NHS advises that eggs can form part of a healthy, nutritious diet, and there is no recommended limit on how many someone should eat, some organisations have  recommended that people with type 2 diabetes limit their consumption of eggs because of their high cholesterol level.

However, according to a study from the University of Sydney recently published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, there are no associated cardiovascular risks with consuming up to 12 eggs per week for a year in patients with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.

What Did the Study Involve?

The findings follow an initial study, in which some of the participants aimed to maintain their weight whilst consuming 12 eggs per week and the rest aimed to do the same whilst consuming under two eggs per week over a 3 month period.

For this latest part of the study, the same participants started a weight-loss diet whilst still consuming the same amount of eggs for another 3 months. Then they were asked to continue the egg consumption with their normal diet for another 6 months, before being followed up by the researchers.

What Were the Findings?

At each phase of the study, none of the participants showed any evidence of an increased risk of diabetes or other cardiovascular diseases. The findings also suggested that consuming eggs could play an important role in weight management, as those on a high-egg diet were less likely to feel hungry if they had eggs at breakfast.

The results showed that even though the saturated fats and cholesterol intakes were higher than the American Diabetes Association guidelines, the blood lipid profiles of the participants were not adversely affected. The study concluded that a high-egg consumption in conjunction with a healthy diet is not dangerous.

The lead of the study, Nick Fuller from the University’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, said:

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

While eggs themselves are high in dietary cholesterol – and people with type 2 diabetes tend to have higher levels of the ‘bad’ low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol – this study supports existing research that shows consumption of eggs has little effect on the levels of cholesterol in the blood of the people eating them.’

So Are Eggs Healthy?

Including eggs as part of a healthy diet is a good way of improving protein and micronutrient intake. Eggs are also a good source of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and vitamin B12. The NHS advises cooking eggs by boiling or poaching them because frying them, in oil or butter for example, can increase the fat content by 50%. As the featured study reports, although eggs contain a significant amount of cholesterol, the level of cholesterol in the blood is affected far more by saturated fats, suggesting there is no need to ‘cut down’ on eggs as part of a balanced diet.

If you have diabetes and want to know more about what foods to include in your diet, your GP will be able to offer advice. The Diabetes.co.uk site is also a helpful resource.