Eggs have long been one of the most confusing foods, nutritionally speaking. On the one hand, they contain essential nutrients like choline, lutein, and B vitamins, and are a good source of protein. On the other hand, they contain higher levels of cholesterol than almost any other food — which may or may not have an impact on your blood cholesterol level, depending on how your body responds. Adding to the confusion on eggs, many overviews of their risks and benefits have looked at studies that may be decades old, and sometimes at roughly the same group of studies over and over.
In a recent analysis of eggs, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers aimed to improve on previous investigations by looking only at studies that were less than 10 years old. They also looked separately at interventional studies — those in which participants are randomly assigned to do, or not do, something — and observational studies, in which participants and their behaviors are tracked over a period of time. The difference between these two types of studies may be especially important when it comes to eggs, since people who are generally more health-conscious may limit them more than other people — leading to differences in outcomes that have nothing to do with egg consumption.
As noted in an article on the latest analysis at Diabetes.co.uk, the researchers found no consistent relationship between egg consumption and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes over follow-up periods as long as 7 years. In both people with diabetes and those without it, there was also no direct relationship between egg intake and coronary artery calcium, which is a key risk factor for atherosclerosis (narrowed arteries).
In people at higher risk for heart disease, eating eggs was actually found to lower the risk of abnormal blood lipid levels, and may have led to reduced levels of plaque in some study participants’ arteries. In general, the researchers found no relationship between egg consumption and blood cholesterol levels in people with or without diabetes. They also concluded that in observational studies that found a relationship between egg intake and blood cholesterol, this outcome was most likely due to the participants’ other dietary patterns and overall lifestyle.
What’s your relationship with eggs — do you try to avoid them, or do you eat them regularly? Have you noticed that eating or not eating eggs has any impact on your blood test results, or other aspects of your health? Are you more likely to eat eggs when you read about encouraging studies, or are you pretty much set in your habits? Leave a comment below!
Want to learn more about eggs and diabetes? Read “Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket — Or On One Plate!” and “Standout Foods Take Center Stage: From Eggs to Walnuts.”