The dietary cholesterol in eggs does not increase a person’s risk of heart disease, even if that person is already at risk due to type 2 diabetes. The new study from the University of Sydney comes after many years of conflicting messages about eggs and their impact on human health.
Some health professionals advise that people with diabetes or at a high risk heart disease for another reason eat no more than three eggs per week. But in the new study, eating up to 12 eggs per week for one year did not increase risk factors for heart disease in people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Eggs are an affordable source of high-quality protein, and they contain other healthy components that promote fat and carbohydrate regulation, eye, heart, and vascular health, and healthy pregnancies.
"Despite differing advice around safe levels of egg consumption for people with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, our research indicates people do not need to hold back from eating eggs if this is part of a healthy diet,” explained study leader Dr. Nick Fuller.
Fuller’s study involved looking for risk factors like cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure levels in different groups of people to examine the effects of eating eggs.
Specifically, the study recruited participants who were then split into two groups - high-egg diet (12 eggs per week) and low-egg diet (less than two eggs per week) - for a three-month trial. Participants aimed to maintain their current weight. Researchers saw no difference in cardiovascular risk factors at the end of the trial between the two groups.
The second part of the study involved a weight loss diet for three months, with participants maintaining the same egg-eating habits.
"A healthy diet as prescribed in this study emphasised replacing saturated fats (such as butter) with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as avocado and olive oil)," Fuller explained.
After a six-month to one-year follow-up, researchers again observed no negative changes in heart disease risk factors, and both groups achieved, on average, an equal amount of weight loss.
"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," Fuller concluded.
The present study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.