Egg-Rich Diet Not Harmful in Type 2 Diabetes

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Oct. 9, 2014 -- Eggs don't have a bad effect on cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests. Researchers also found that eating an egg-rich diet for 3 months was linked to better appetite control, and may also provide a greater sense of feeling full.

The findings suggest that eating two eggs per day, 6 days a week can be a safe part of a healthy diet for people with type 2, according to Nicholas Fuller, PhD, from the Boden Institute Clinical Trials Unit, University of Sydney, Australia.

Fuller presented his findings at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes 2014 Meeting last month.

He said the study was motivated by the negative perception widely held toward eggs in the diets of people with type 2 diabetes. Studies have also suggested that, although eating high amounts of eggs is not linked to heart problems in people without diabetes, it may be tied to heart problems in people with type 2, he said.

National guidelines on eating eggs and total cholesterol limits are inconclusive, though, and guidelines vary between different countries, he said.

For example, in Australia, the National Heart Foundation recommends a maximum of six eggs per week as part of a diet low in saturated fats for healthy people and in those with type 2 diabetes. But in the U.S., guidelines recommend cholesterol be limited to less than 300 milligrams per day for healthy people -- and one egg has about 200 milligrams of cholesterol. Those guidelines also suggest that people with type 2 stick to less than four eggs per week.

There's a lack of research into the effects of eating high amounts of eggs in people with type 2 diabetes, Fuller said.

Study Details

The study led by Fuller explored health outcomes in people on a high-egg diet who had either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.

The trial was also a weight-control study. Participants went to the clinic monthly and got advice on specific types of foods and amounts they could eat. The guidance emphasized better management of diabetes and eating foods with "good" unsaturated fats rather than foods with saturated fats.

The study lasted for 3 months, a time-span in which a change in cholesterol levels can become clear. It was supported by a research grant from the Australian Egg Corporation.

A total of 140 overweight people were recruited to one of two groups:

  • a low-egg group that would eat less than two eggs a week
  • a high-egg group that would eat two eggs per day at breakfast for 6 days per week

Those in the low-egg group were told to eat enough protein to match that of the high-egg group. Cholesterol was tested in both groups.

The findings showed no significant difference between the two groups in levels of "good" HDL cholesterol over the study period. But those in the high-egg group showed a trend toward HDL improvement.

Fuller suggested this might be a possible area of future research to confirm whether a high-egg diet in people with type 2 diabetes does raise HDL cholesterol.

Despite both groups being matched for protein eaten, the high-egg group reported less hunger and greater fullness after meals, Fuller said.

"Eggs may also help with greater weight loss and less weight regain than a conventional diet, due to the greater satiety [fullness] and less hunger reported with a high-egg diet," he told Medscape Medical News.

The high-egg group also reported more enjoyment of foods, less boredom, and more satisfaction with the diet.

The work is expected to be published later this month.

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SOURCE: European Association for the Study of Diabetes, Sept. 15-19, 2014, Vienna, Austria.

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