New research says go (over) easy on eggs

17th November 2020 | Eativity editors

Scrambled, poached or boiled, eggs are a popular breakfast food the world over. But you might not want to eat them every day: new research from the University of South Australia has found that excess egg consumption could increase your risk of diabetes.

The study was conducted in partnership with the China Medical University and Qatar University, and is the first one to look at egg consumption in a large sample of Chinese adults. It found that people who regularly consumed one or more eggs per day increased their risk of developing diabetes by 60 percent.

According to Diabetes Australia, diabetes is the world’s fastest-growing chronic condition, while the World Health Organisation states that 1.6 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. This study looked at China, where the prevalence of diabetes is now exceeding 11 percent. This is above the global average of 8.5 percent.

Eggs are still a great source of protein and other nutrients, so you shouldn't cut them out altogether
Eggs are still a great source of protein and other nutrients, so you shouldn’t cut them out altogether.

Changing diets

UniSA’s Dr Ming Li says the rise of diabetes is a growing concern, especially in China, where changes to the traditional Chinese diet are having an impact on health.

“Diet is a known factor that contributes to the onset of type 2 diabetes, so understanding the dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence is important,” she says.

Over the past few decades, China has undergone a substantial change in diet that’s seen many people move away from the traditional diet of grains and vegies to a more processed one that includes greater amounts of meats, snacks and energy-dense foods. At the same time, egg consumption has also been steadily increasing. From 1991 to 2009, the number of people eating eggs in China nearly doubled.

The average egg consumption in Australia is 5.77 eggs per week
Time for brunch? The average egg consumption in Australia is 5.77 eggs per week.

More research needed

While the association between eating eggs and diabetes is often debated, this study aimed to assess people’s long-term egg consumption of eggs and their risk of developing diabetes.

“What we discovered was that higher long-term egg consumption [greater than 38 grams per day] increased the risk of diabetes among Chinese adults by approximately 25 percent,” says Dr Li. “Furthermore, adults who regularly ate a lot of eggs [more than 50 grams, equivalent to one egg per day] had a 60 percent increased risk of diabetes.”

Dr Li says that while these results suggest that higher egg consumption is positively associated with the risk of diabetes, more research is needed to explore the relationship.

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