Researchers put participants on a diet with lots of eggs to see how their waistlines and hearts would handle it. Here are the results.
There’ve been a number of studies – probably one for every egg in a fat chicken’s egg clutch – that show that eating eggs is okay; that it won’t cause your aorta to congeal into something with the consistency of a hockey puck. Regardless, there’s a part of us that still feels the tiniest bit of apprehension when we fork into our eggs-in-a-hole breakfast for the fifteenth straight day.
But maybe, just maybe, this latest study will finally let us boil, fry, scramble, or Rocky Balboa as many eggs as we want without imagining that our heart is starting to make a wheezing sound like a leaky sump pump.
Researchers scraped up 128 participants, all of whom had prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and split them into two groups for 3 months. Each group ate a protein, carb, fat, and calorie-matched diet for the entirety, but one group had less than 2 eggs a week while the other group had over 12 eggs a week. The participants were then followed up with during 9 and 12-month visits.
The high egg diet had zero effect on serum lipids, glycemia (plasma glucose, glycated hemoglobin, 1,5 anhydroglucitol), markers of inflammation (c-reactive protein, interleukin 6, soluble E-selectin), oxidative stress, or adipokinectin levels. Both groups lost similar amounts of weight, too.
The researchers concluded,
“Individuals with prediabetes or T2D who followed a high-egg diet for 12 months, which included a 3-month weight loss phase, had no adverse changes in cardiovascular risk factors, inflammatory or oxidative stress markers, or measures of glycemia. These findings suggest that it is safe for persons at high risks of T2D and those with T2D to include eggs, an acceptable and convenient food source, in their diet regularly.”
First, if it’s okay for prediabetics or type 2 diabetics to eat a lot of eggs, it’s almost certainly okay for you, a healthy person, to eat a lot of eggs.
Secondly, you may have noticed I didn’t mention cholesterol intakes in my comments. It did increase in the high-egg group – by about 2.5 times, but cholesterol is fast becoming a non-issue. Clearly it didn’t make a difference to the cardiovascular risk factors of diabetics, who are by definition more prone to cardiovascular effects.
The truth is that there’s no evidence that reducing cholesterol prolongs life. Disturbingly, there’s a consistent and confounding increase in deaths from other causes when you reduce cholesterol below 180 mg/dl. Yet every two years, experts from around the world meet and decide that the optimal cholesterol level is invariably lower than it was decided to be at the last meeting – without having any solid evidence to back it up.
So my advice is to eat those eggs with semi-wild abandon. Just watch out for salmonella.
- Fuller RF et al. Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study – randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase. Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Jun 1;107(6):921-931. PubMed.