A 30-year observational study of nearly 15,000 participants, questioned about their egg consumption, concluded both good and bad findings. First, the good: eating roughly one egg per day was not associated with an increased risk of heart disease. However, higher egg consumption is associated with a higher incidence of having diabetes.
In fact, eating one or more eggs per day increased the risk of diabetes by 60%. The research, performed in collaboration with Australian, Chinese and Qatari scientists, was pooled via data conducted from 1991 to 2009. All study participants hailed from China.
Type 2 diabetes is a growing health trend in China, where a growing middle and upper economic class has abandoned traditional diets, replacing them with high-glycemic, Western diets.
A traditional Chinese diet consists mainly of grains and vegetables, with a modest amount of animal protein. According to FoodNavigator.com, which reported on the study, egg consumption has been steadily rising in China; the number of people in the communist country who regularly ate eggs during the same period as the observational study doubled.
The association between higher egg consumption and developing type 2 diabetes was more dramatic in women than men.
To be sure, however, this observational study does not definitely conclude that eggs by themselves cause diabetes. Eggs are a nutrient-dense food, containing lots of protein, vitamins and minerals. In fact, some people would argue that eggs are one of nature’s perfect foods, containing all the essential amino acids plus essential fatty acids.
Despite this fact, the study does show that frequent egg consumption over that specific period of time raised the risk of the Chinese study participants.
Not mentioned in the FoodNavigator article is another possibility of why frequent egg consumption, over a lengthy period of time, was associated with type 2 diabetes. And that is that when one eats a lot of protein in one sitting, it can cause a sharp rise in insulin secretion and blood sugar levels. Simple carbohydrates are often associated with high blood glucose levels but protein, too, when consumed in excess, can raise blood sugar levels as well.
Also, another reason why there was an association with higher egg consumption and type 2 diabetes is that perhaps the participants had unhealthy diets to begin with; maybe it wasn’t the eggs that were to blame for their diagnosis. Maybe fast food, fried foods, highly-processed, and high-sugar foods were the culprit.
Despite the large number of participants, the study clearly has design flaws and should be taken with a grain of salt. Moderate egg consumption, along with an overall balanced, low-sugar diet can be part of a healthy diet for those with type 2 diabetes and without.