Egg consumption might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, according to new research from the University of Eastern Finland. The findings were published April 1 on the website of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Type 2 diabetes is becoming increasingly widespread throughout the world, according to a news release.
Past research has shown lifestyle habits, such as exercise and nutrition, play a crucial role in the development of the disease.
In some studies, high-cholesterol diets have been associated with disturbances in glucose metabolism and risk of type 2 diabetes. In contrast, in some experimental studies, the consumption of eggs has led to improved glucose balance, among other things.
However, there is no experimental data available on the effects of egg consumption on the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
In population-based studies, the association between egg consumption and type 2 diabetes has been investigated only scarcely, and the findings have been inconclusive. Egg consumption has either been associated with an elevated risk, or no association has been found, according to the release.
The dietary habits of 2,332 men ages 42-60 were assessed at the start of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study, KIHD, at the University of Eastern Finland in 1984–89. Their diets were assessed using four-day food records at baseline. During a follow-up of 19.3 years, 432 men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The study found egg consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and with lower blood glucose levels. Men who ate approximately four eggs per week had a 37% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than men who ate only approximately one egg per week, researchers found. This association persisted even after possible confounding factors such as physical activity, body mass index, smoking and consumption of fruits and vegetables were taken into consideration. The consumption of more than four eggs did not bring any significant additional benefits, according to the study.
According to the release, one explanation for the results is that unlike in many other populations, egg consumption in Finland is not strongly associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, low physical activity or consumption of processed meats. Besides cholesterol, eggs contain many beneficial nutrients that can affect glucose metabolism and low-grade inflammation, and can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The study also suggests the overall health effects of foods are difficult to anticipate based on an individual nutrient such as cholesterol alone.
According to the release, instead of focusing on individual nutrients, nutrition research increasingly has focused on the health effects of whole foods and diets during the past few years.