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High-egg diet safe for people with type 2 diabetes, prediabetes

Tristan Manalac
17 May 2018
Busting the cholesterol myth in eggs

A diet rich in eggs appears to bear no negative consequence for individuals with type 2 diabetes (T2D) or prediabetes in terms of cardiovascular risk factors and measures of glycaemia, a recent study has found.

Over a 3-month weight-loss intervention period, participants who received the high-egg vs low-egg diets showed statistically similar mean changes in high-density (HDL; 0.01±0.13 vs 0.00±0.14 mmol/L; p=0.6) and low-density (LDL; –0.01±0.72 vs 0.02±0.72 mmol/L; p=0.61) lipoprotein. Change in weight was likewise comparable between the two groups (–1.59±2.46 vs –1.89±2.35 kg; p=0.31). [Am J Clin Nutr 2018;doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy048]

There remained no significant between-group differences in the changes in HDL (0.01±0.16 vs 0.05±0.22 mmol/L; p=0.54), LDL (–0.04±0.78 vs –0.01±0.90 mmol/L; p=0.77) and weight (–3.11±6.34 vs –3.08±5.23 kg; p=0.48) when measurements were collected 6 months after the weight-loss intervention.

The high-egg diet also had no significant impact on markers of inflammation. Changes in serum concentrations of soluble E-selectin (–2.46±11.05 vs –0.54±11.82 ng/mL; p=0.36) and interleukin-6 (0.31±2.94 vs 0.43±2.36 pg/mL; p=0.64) were comparable between the high- and low-egg diets.

In contrast, serum level of high-sensitivity C-reactive protein was significantly higher in the high- vs low-egg diet immediately after the weight-loss intervention (1.51±5.80 vs –0.66±6.71 mg/L; p=0.02). This difference was attenuated when checked 6 months after the intervention (0.58±0.63 vs –0.31±12.77 mg/L; p=0.52).

High-egg consumption likewise had no significant influence on glycaemic control. Changes in different markers such as plasma glucose (–0.03±1.56 vs –0.05±1.20 mmol/L; p=0.83), glycated haemoglobin (–2.64±4.82 vs –2.37±6.64 mmol/mol; p=0.75) and 1,5-anhydroglucitol (0.63±3.00 vs 0.61±2.73; p=0.68) were comparable between the high- and low-egg consumption groups.

The present findings “suggest that a high-egg diet is safe for those with T2D—just as for the general population— without adverse consequences for cardiovascular risk factors,” conflicting with health recommendations for T2D patients and prior reports and meta-analyses.

Importantly, researchers also found that adherence to and acceptability of both the high- and low-egg diets were high and comparable to each other.

“Thus, a diet with a higher egg intake not only appears to be not detrimental from a cardiometabolic perspective but is likely to be acceptable to persons with T2D in whom compliance with nutritional management is very important,” they added.

For the prospective, randomized, controlled study, 128 T2D patients underwent a 3-month weight-loss intervention programme where daily energy intake was restricted to 2.1 MJ. Participants were randomly assigned to a high-egg (≥12 eggs per week; n=66; mean age 58.7±years; 50 percent female) or low-egg (<2 eggs per week; n=62; mean age 61.1±10.8 years; 58 percent female) diet.

The Food Acceptability Questionnaire was used to measure the degree of diet enjoyment, while a visual analogue scale was used to evaluate appetite. Analysis of covariance was performed to compare the two treatment groups.

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