Are Eggs Good For Diabetes?

Which protein source is shelled and shunned in nutrition? Eggs. This incredible, edible macro is often ostracized by dieticians. The Standard American Diet offers many convenient meals, at the expense of high cholesterol and low nutrients. Diabetics are at the helm of this concern. People with diabetes require more intricate meal plans to meet their daily needs, and one breakfast staple is scrambling the minds of many. Should diabetics enjoy eggs? Let's unpack that answer. 

First, consider this from a full-body perspective. All of our body systems are interconnected, therefore what affects one part of the body may inevitably have effects on another. The initial concern is the relationship between diabetes and cholesterol. The team at Medical News Today says, yes. Diabetes is a condition where the bloodstream frequently houses high levels of sugar. The pancreas' purpose is to emit insulin, a hormone needed to balance blood sugar levels by moving glucose into cells for energy. With both diabetes types 1 and 2, the pancreas doesn't produce or use insulin properly, leaving sugars lingering in the bloodstream (per National Institute of Health (NIH)). Excess sugar in the blood (hyperglycemia) can impact cholesterol levels. WebMD explains, "High glucose levels can contribute to other health conditions, including high cholesterol."

Since diet and overall health are connected, diabetics have to choose foods that improve their blood sugar, without soaring cholesterol levels. Does this make eggs a healthy choice for people with diabetes?

Here's why eggs are controversial

Aside from being a protein powerhouse, eggs are scrutinized for the cholesterol in them. Our liver and intestines naturally create cholesterol, a waxy element in our blood (per WebMD). We use cholesterol to make hormones and fatty acids called lipoproteins. Since we naturally make cholesterol, and it's also in eggs, why is it considered "bad"?

There are different types of cholesterol. Not all of them are healthful. HDL or high-density lipoproteins are good, while low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) are "bad", according to Medical News Today. Experts noted, "​​​​When a person's LDL cholesterol levels rise too high, LDL cholesterol can form plaques that narrow or block blood vessels." High cholesterol is synonymous with heart-related issues like stroke and heart disease. The dietary cholesterol found in some foods, like eggs, is distinct from the cholesterol our body makes.

The number of eggs we eat may affect our cholesterol and diabetes risk. The British Journal of Nutrition conducted a survey that concluded high egg consumption increased the risk of diabetes over an 18-year period. However, the results didn't convey how many people actually developed the condition. One important detail to note: Eating eggs excessively is what renders the most concerning results. Another study from 2015 confirmed that people with the highest animal protein and egg intake had an increased diabetes risk. The similarity amongst these studies is the number of eggs people have regularly. Thus, eggs are not completely unhealthy, but the amount should be monitored.

Enjoy them in moder-egg-tion

Let's unscramble some data to prove this protein isn't all bad. According to research from a 2018 controlled study, participants (with diabetes and prediabetes) who consumed eggs for 12 weeks saw a 4.4% improvement in fasting blood sugar levels. Eggs are a powerful source of clean animal protein. And since protein is the building block for our muscles, diabetics need it. If you want to savor your morning egg without raising your cholesterol, WebMD advises limiting your intake to 3 eggs per week.

The cholesterol in one egg counts for 200 mg out of the 300 mg daily recommended amount. That may sound restrictive, but Healthline says you don't have to cut them out completely. And if the soft yellow yolk isn't your favorite, you have extra options. The pros at Healthline pointed out, "Since all of the cholesterol is in the yolk, you can eat egg whites without worrying about how they're affecting your daily consumption of cholesterol."

Protein is only one part of the picture. Mayo Clinic suggests another solution: a well-rounded diet. Including a variety of nutritious foods in your breakfast may help you feel less like you're missing out. You can add volume to your omelet with fresh spinach and bell peppers. Whisk up some egg whites to eat with your avocado toast, or poach an egg with some fluffy pancakes. Overall, eating eggs in moderation is safe for diabetics.