Eggs are a really useful addition to a diabetic meal plan, yet many diabetics worry about eating eggs since they contain cholesterol. While it is not uncommon for a type 2 diabetic to have other conditions like high cholesterol, dietary cholesterol intake itself has not been linked to elevated blood cholesterol levels. As for an overall relationship between egg consumption and type 2 diabetes, a June, 2010 study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no such relationship. The American Diabetic Association does recommend limiting egg intake to 3 per week in their Exchange Lists for Meal Planning, but the recommendation has more to do with fat content than with cholesterol.
Saturated fat intake will raise your blood cholesterol, and while 2 eggs have less saturated fat than a small hamburger, you have to make sure you don't cook your eggs in butter or pair them with full-fat bacon or sausage. (Other study results that have shown a link between egg intake and high cholesterol or diabetes may be skewed based on the presence of other high-fat breakfast items like butter, bacon and sausage).
On their own, eggs are a moderately lean protein source that can help balance a diabetic meal plan. Egg whites are an even leaner option: 2 egg whites or 1/4 cup egg substitute have half the calories of one egg and are extremely low-fat (and the ADA doesn't recommend limiting intake of egg whites since the saturated fat is found in the yolks). Here are some healthy diabetic meal ideas that are less than 500 calories and include eggs:
- Scramble 1 egg and 2 egg whites. Serve with 2 slices of whole wheat toast topped with reduced-fat butter spread. Add a serving of seasonal fresh fruit.
Mix two hard-boiled eggs with fat-free mayonnaise and serve with a slice of lettuce and tomato on whole-wheat toast. Add a serving of seasonal fresh fruit.
If you're still in doubt about adding eggs to your diabetic meal plan, here are some other reasons why diabetics should consider eating eggs:
- In addition to being low in saturated fat and full of good-quality protein, eggs are also packed with 13 essential vitamins and minerals -- two of which, choline and lutein, are important for brain and eye function.
- Eating eggs at breakfast can help to control hunger and blood sugar levels. In one study comparing an egg breakfast to a bagel breakfast, those who had eggs for breakfast reported feeling less hungry throughout the day and lost 65% more weight. Protein slows digestion as well as glucose absorption. That's why a good, lean protein should be included in all diabetic meals.
- One egg only has about 75 calories and no carbs. Hard-boiled eggs make an excellent diabetic snack, allowing you to fill up on the protein without spiking your blood sugar.
- Eggs cost at least 1.5 to 2 times less than equivalent meat and fish options when you compare 1 egg to 1 ounce of meat, making them a very economic choice!
A final thought: although I personally love an over-medium runny yolk, cooking an egg thoroughly is the best way to reduce the risk of salmonella food poisoning. Please don't eat raw eggs!
Djoussé L, Kamineni A, Nelson TL, Carnethon M, Mozaffarian D, Siscovick D, Mukamal KJ. "http://www.ajcn.org/cgi/content/short/ajcn.2010.29406v1. "Egg consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in older adults." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition</i> 2010.
Ratliff J, Leite JO, de Ogburn R, Puglisi MJ, VanHeest J, Fernandez ML. "Consuming eggs for breakfast influences plasma glucose and ghrelin, while reducing energy intake during the next 24 hours in adult men." Nutrition Research; 2010, 30:96-103.
Vander Wal JS, Gupta A, Khosla P, Dhurandhar."Egg breakfast enhances weight loss." International Journal of Obesity; 2008, 32:1545-1551.