It's OK to Eat Eggs for Breakfast, Right?

Epidemiological studies have provided conflicting evidence regarding the impact of dietary cholesterol and egg consumption on heart disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Also controversial is the idea that dietary cholesterol may contribute to the very development of T2DM by altering glucose metabolism. Given the significant influence of diet on diabetes management, the lack of conclusive evidence on this subject emphasizes the need for further study.

Breakfast is an important meal for people with diabetes. Epidemiological studies have provided conflicting evidence regarding the impact of dietary cholesterol and egg consumption on heart disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Also controversial is the idea that dietary cholesterol may contribute to the very development of T2DM by altering glucose metabolism. Given the significant influence of diet on diabetes management, the lack of conclusive evidence on this subject emphasizes the need for further study.

Researchers evaluated the impact of regular egg consumption on heart disease risk in T2DM patients in a randomized, crossover clinical trial. In previous studies, oatmeal consumption has been observed to reduce plasma LDL and decrease glucose levels. A total of 33 subjects were randomized to consume either 1 egg or ½ cup (40 g) of oatmeal with 2 cups (472 mL) of lactose-free milk per day for a five-week period. Following a three-week washout period, participants switched to the other breakfast option for 5 weeks.

The researchers monitored blood glucose levels and the inflammatory markers tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukin 6 (IL-6). They also measured oxidative stress, plasma lipids, and glucose metabolism parameters, including HbA1C.

A total of 29 patients—19 females and 10 males average age of 53.5 years —completed the study. The mean baseline HbA1C value was 6.75%, indicating adequate glycemic control.

At the study’s conclusion, plasma glucose concentrations were similar regardless of whether the participants ate eggs or oatmeal. TNF-α was reduced following the egg period when compared to the oatmeal period, suggesting a potential benefit for patients with T2DM. The difference between IL-6 values following the egg and oatmeal periods was borderline significant.

This finding is particularly important because patients with diabetes usually have low-grade inflammation, and markers of inflammation were reduced by egg intake. This study was completed in a collaboration between the University of Connecticut and Centro de Investigacion y Desarrollo in Sonora, Mexico. It appears in the May 2015 issue of Nutrients.