NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - People who sit down to a daily breakfast of eggs may have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, new research suggests.
In a long-term study of 57,000 U.S. adults, researchers found that those who ate an egg a day were 58 percent to 77 percent more likely than non-egg-eaters to develop type 2 diabetes.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes Care, do not necessarily mean that eggs themselves put people on a path to diabetes, according to the researchers. But they do suggest it is wise to limit your egg intake.
“Based on the current data, our recommendations would be to consume eggs in moderation and not to exceed six eggs per week,” lead researcher Dr. Luc Djousse, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Reuters Health.
The study does not explain exactly why eggs are linked to diabetes, but cholesterol may play a role. The study participants’ daily cholesterol intake was also related to diabetes risk, and when the researchers factored this in, the relationship between egg intake and diabetes weakened.
In animal studies, high-fat diets have been shown to raise levels of blood sugar and the sugar-regulating hormone insulin — suggesting a way that a cholesterol-heavy diet might promote diabetes.
According to Djousse, it’s important for people at risk of type 2 diabetes — due to factors like family history and obesity — to pay attention to their overall cholesterol intake, and not just cholesterol from eggs.
Even more important, he noted, is a focus on overall health — maintaining a normal weight, exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet — rather than any one food or nutrient.
He pointed out that eggs also contain important nutrients like protein, vitamins and minerals, and “good” unsaturated fats.
SOURCE: Diabetes Care, February 2009.