Eggs and Diabetes: Beneficial or Harmful for Diabetes?

Posted December 25, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

The impact of eggs on patients dealing with diabetes has been debated for quite some time. Many foods and dietary decisions can impact the health of those that have diabetes. So, it is crucial to understand if there is a correlation between eggs and diabetes that we need to be aware of.

In this article, we will seek to uncover the truth and data surrounding the debate between eggs and diabetes. First, here is a quick summary to get us started before we get into the details.

Eggs and Diabetes: Eggs are a very nutritious food that provide a great source of protein and are low in carbohydrates, which can be beneficial for those with diabetes. However, eggs are also high in cholesterol, and the impact this has on the body has been widely debated. Based on a study out of China, they are seeing some sort of link between egg consumption and diabetes, but the exact link is unclear. And in other studies, eggs have been shown to actually reduce one’s risk of diabetes.

As you are starting to see already, some of the data surrounding eggs and diabetes is somewhat conflicting. So, with this quick summary in mind, let’s get into more of the specifics.

Is there a Link Between Eggs and Diabetes?

Eggs and Diabetes

Years ago, it was believed that eggs might have a negative impact on one’s diabetes. This relationship between eggs and diabetes was believed to be associated with cholesterol.

Eggs, specifically the yolk of eggs, are naturally high in cholesterol. And we have often heard that cholesterol can be bad for your health. This isn’t completely true, though.

Our bodies need a certain amount of cholesterol, particularly high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which is the good kind. Having high levels of HDL can help lower your risk of stroke and heart disease.

On the other hand, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is bad cholesterol, can increase your risk of having heart disease. This is particularly dangerous for those that have diabetes, as the combination of high LDL and high blood sugar levels will significantly affect your heart health.  So, will egg consumption raise your LDL level?

The answer is no. Researchers and scientists used to believe that if you consume foods high in cholesterol, then this would directly impact the cholesterol levels in your body. This has been debunked as of now. Dietary cholesterol tends to have a minimal impact on the body’s level of cholesterol.

This is because the liver already produces the necessary amount of cholesterol we need. So, when our diet is rich in cholesterol, the liver slows production to keep levels stable. Typically, a diet full of saturated and trans fat will cause a rise in LDL cholesterol.

So, is there another potential link between eggs and diabetes?

According to a recent study in China, they found that those that consumed high amounts of eggs were at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They found that women were also more prone to develop diabetes compared to men.

Despite the limited evidence presented in the study, other studies have suggested the opposite. That increased egg consumption can actually help decrease your risk of developing diabetes.

The study done in China mentioned that the overall diet of the people had gone through a transition. So, it is crucial that more research is done and observes other foods being consumed. It could be very likely that egg consumption is not the culprit, but rather another dietary factor that they have recently introduced into their lives.

Needless to say, more research would need to be done to determine if there is a definite link between eggs and diabetes.

The Benefits of Eggs

While on the topic of eggs and diabetes, it is important to mention the benefits that eggs can bring.

Firstly, eggs are relatively inexpensive and are packed with protein. Just one egg has about 6 grams of protein, which helps our body build and repair tissue.

They are rich in all kinds of vitamins. For example, one boiled egg has roughly 40% of a person’s vitamin D requirements. Eggs also contain vitamins A, E, B5, B12, iodine, and phosphorus. All of these are essential for helping keep your immune system strong and your body healthy.

Eggs also provide a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is an essential fat that provides benefits for heart and brain health.

Eggs and Diabetes

Because eggs are so nutrient-rich and low in carbohydrates, they help individuals lose weight. Eggs can make you feel fuller longer, making them great for weight management.

If you were to just look at the benefits alone, you can see how eggs can actually help you manage your diabetes condition. Replacing unhealthy foods with eggs can help you keep your blood sugar levels stabilized.  

My Personal Experience with Eggs and Diabetes

As someone that has had type 1 diabetes for the past 7 years as of writing this and consumes eggs regularly, I can personally speak on the relationship between eggs and diabetes. Specifically, I can discuss how eggs have an impact on one’s postprandial blood glucose.

I wear a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), so I can see how different types of foods directly impact my blood sugar. I often eat four eggs at a time a few days a week. And based on my experience, I can expect four eggs to spike my blood sugar slightly if I do not inject insulin.

So, what I have started doing is giving myself about 1.5-2 units of insulin if I am strictly eating just eggs. It is important to mention here that everyone’s insulin needs are different, and what works for me may not work for you.

Despite the slight spike in blood sugar from the eggs, having a meal like this provides stability to my glucose. I notice that I do not have as great of fluctuations on days that I eat eggs in the morning. They also make me feel fuller, which prevents me from impulsively eating throughout the day, which can cause my blood sugar to go off the rails.

I also know that I am getting all of the other nutrients and vitamins that are packed inside eggs, which is crucial for those of us that have diabetes. Many people, like me, that have diabetes are often deficient in certain vitamins, such as vitamin D. Consuming eggs regularly helps provide a sufficient source of these vitamins.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this has provided you with a greater understanding of the relationship between eggs and diabetes. As always, if you have questions regarding your specific health condition and treatment, consult your doctor.

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