Yes! People with Diabetes CAN Eat Eggs
Recently a new patient with diabetes came in with a list of several foods she was concerned about eating. “Can I eat these,” she asked, indicating fear of eating something harmful. Eggs, along with some fruits and grains were on the list. I both love and hate these kinds of questions. I hate them because I never want people to be afraid of food, especially wholesome foods like eggs, fruits and whole grains. But I also love these questions because it’s my opportunity to help my patients push aside fear and guilt and embrace delicious taste and healthful eating patterns.
What’s Up with Eggs?
The egg is one of those nutrient-dense foods that generates a lot of debate about its healthfulness. Because eggs are high in cholesterol, which has historically been linked to heart disease, the public has long been warned about eating too many eggs, especially the cholesterol-rich yolk. People with diabetes may have even greater concerns because their risk of developing heart disease is quite high.
Here are a few things about eggs.
- Recently the American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology and Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee stated that the evidence is not strong enough to conclude that cholesterol in foods raises blood cholesterol.
- Some population studies have found that eating seven or more eggs weekly increases the risk of heart disease among people with diabetes. Not all studies find an association, however. I see a problem with population studies like these. The researchers cannot account for all of the variables in people’s diets. For example, on some plates, eggs keep company with wholesome fruit and whole-grain toast or oats. On other plates, eggs sit atop buttery biscuits and sausage gravy. Does the company eggs keep influence health? I would have to think so.
- Researchers in Australia studied what happens when people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes eat two eggs daily for six days per week compared to those eating very few eggs. After three months, there were no differences in cholesterol levels, blood sugar, blood pressure or waist circumference. The study didn’t end after three months, so I’m looking forward to learning what the researchers find about these diets after a full year.
- In a separate study, researchers compared an egg-based breakfast to an oatmeal-based breakfast among people with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. They measured blood sugar, cholesterol, body fat and more. They found no differences except that the egg group had lower markers of inflammation.
You can read more details about this study in an article I wrote for the Egg Nutrition Center.
Eggs offer solutions
Now, I’ll share several things that I like about eggs – other than their great taste.
- Eggs are affordable and easy to prepare.
- They contain lutein, a cousin to beta-carotene. Lutein makes its way into the macula of the eye where it helps protect vision.
- Eggs are nutrient-dense, a source of high-quality protein, and are low in saturated fat. I encourage moderate amounts of protein at each of the three main meals to help my weight loss clients minimize muscle loss while they drop pounds.
I am very comfortable recommending eggs as part of a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables and other wholesome foods for most of my patients with diabetes. There is much to learn about individual differences, however, so it’s prudent to monitor cholesterol levels and adjust as necessary.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.