Researchers found that egg consumption did not contribute to cardiovascular risk factors so long as it was part of a healthy diet.
The nutritional direction we’ve gotten regarding eating eggs and how it impacts our health has been scrambled, to say the least. More than 30 years ago, a Time magazine cover broke the news to America that eggs were contributing to heart disease. More recently, the 2017 Netflix documentary What the Health stated that “Eating one egg per day is just as bad as smoking five cigarettes per day for life expectancy.”
But new research out of the University of Sydney finds that even for people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes (T2D), eggs don’t increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and are a good addition to a healthy diet.
The study, published in May 2018 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is a continuation of earlier research, published in April 2015 in the same journal.
In the first study, participants were asked to maintain their weight while eating a high-egg (12 eggs per week) or low-egg (less than two eggs per week) diet. After three months, researchers found no difference in cardiovascular risk markers.
In this follow-up study, the same participants were asked to go on a weight loss diet — a diet that emphasized replacing saturated fats (such as butter) with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as avocado and olive oil) — for three months while continuing their high or low egg consumption. Participants were then followed for an additional six months.
At all stages of the study, neither group showed unfavorable changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors and achieved equivalent weight loss, regardless of their level of egg consumption.
“Despite differing advice around safe levels of egg consumption for people with prediabetes 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,” Nicholas Fuller, MD, research program leader within the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia, and lead author of the study, said in a press release.
“A lot of this epidemiological research showing that high egg consumption (six or more eggs per week) is detrimental to a person’s health was conducted at a time when we were told to avoid eggs,” says Dr. Fuller. “People who were eating a high egg diet during that time were also likely to have other poor eating habits, such as one high in saturated fat and low in whole-grain carbohydrates.”