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More data support eggs

as part of healthy diet patterns for people at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease

JEN HOUCHINS, PHD, RD

Cardiometabolic Health

Nutritious Dietary Patterns

Key Takeaways:

According to new research from Boston University:

  • The conflicting results around the association of egg consumption and cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure and impaired fasting glucose, may be due to the dietary patterns accompanying egg consumption rather than the consumption of eggs itself.
  • Eating ≥5 eggs per week was associated with lower fasting glucose and systolic blood pressure after four years of follow-up.
  • Higher egg intake was linked to a lower risk of developing impaired fasting glucose, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure in this healthy population.

Eggs are recommended as part of healthy dietary patterns by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans1 and the American Heart Association2.  However, research gaps remain around egg consumption for certain groups who are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease.  A growing body of evidence indicates that eggs are an important part of the diet, even for those at risk of cardiovascular disease, within the context of a healthy dietary pattern3-7.  The association between egg consumption and cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and impaired fasting glucose is a research area that has had conflicting results, but new research suggests that “…variable dietary patterns that accompany egg intake may be responsible for the observed differences…8.”  For health professionals, this is great news, because there are many ways to make egg-containing meals and snacks more nutritious.

A new study from Boston University evaluated the association between egg consumption and blood pressure, impaired fasting glucose, or type 2 diabetes using data from the Framingham Offspring Study.  These data show that eating ≥5 eggs per week was associated with lower fasting glucose and systolic blood pressure after four years of follow-up.  Higher egg intake was linked to a lower risk of developing impaired fasting glucose, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure in this healthy population8

Of particular interest, the beneficial impact of eating eggs was stronger when part of healthy dietary patterns.  Specifically, dietary patterns that included eggs and higher amounts of fiber, fish, and whole grains resulted in a 26-29% reduction in the risk of impaired fasting blood glucose or type 2 diabetes8.

These observations are consistent with previous human intervention data that show that including eggs in the context of a plant-based diet does not adversely impact markers of cardiovascular health, and improved intakes of selenium and choline (eggs are an excellent source) in adults at risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus3.  The authors of this paper suggest, “Eggs could be used as an adjuvant to enhance plant-based diets that are typically recommended for those at risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus.”

The beneficial impact of egg consumption on blood glucose-related outcomes may be related to several factors.  Eggs may serve as a substitute for carbohydrates, they are a bioavailable food source of lutein and zeaxanthin, and they are a natural food source of vitamin D (6% DV), which may play a role in glucose metabolism8.  Collectively, these data support that “…moderate amounts of eggs may reduce the risk of impaired fasting glucose, type 2 diabetes, or high blood pressure when consumed as part of a healthy eating pattern8.”

Healthy eating patterns include a variety of vegetables, fruits (especially whole fruit), grains (at least half of which are whole grains), dairy foods, protein foods, and oils.  Healthy dietary patterns also limit foods higher in added sugars, saturated fat, and sodium1.  As a nutrient-rich food, eggs can fit into many different types of cuisines and accommodate personal preferences.  For recipe ideas that fit into these guidelines, please see our collection of recipes developed by credentialed health professionals.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 2020; Available from: https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2020-12/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans_2020-2025.pdf.
  2. Carson, J.A.S., et al., Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation, 2019: p. Cir0000000000000743.
  3. Njike, V.Y., et al., Egg Consumption in the Context of Plant-Based Diets and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr, 2021.
  4. Sawrey-Kubicek, L., et al., Whole egg consumption compared with yolk-free egg increases the cholesterol efflux capacity of high-density lipoproteins in overweight, postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr, 2019.
  5. Thomas, M.S., et al., Eggs Improve Plasma Biomarkers in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome Following a Plant-Based Diet-A Randomized Crossover Study. Nutrients, 2022. 14(10).
  6. DiBella, M., et al., Choline Intake as Supplement or as a Component of Eggs Increases Plasma Choline and Reduces Interleukin-6 without Modifying Plasma Cholesterol in Participants with Metabolic Syndrome.Nutrients, 2020. 12(10).
  7. Wu, F., et al., Egg and Dietary Cholesterol Consumption and Mortality Among Hypertensive Patients: Results From a Population-Based Nationwide Study. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2021. 8(830).
  8. Mott, M.M., et al., Egg Intake Is Associated with Lower Risks of Impaired Fasting Glucose and High Blood Pressure in Framingham Offspring Study Adults. Nutrients, 2023. 15 (3).

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