Why You Should Eat Eggs If You Have Diabetes

Bowl of eggs
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In the past, we've avoided eggs, particularly the yolks of the egg due to their high cholesterol content. However, this thinking has changed. In fact, the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans have lifted the recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol to no more than 300mg/day.

The guidelines state: "available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol...cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption." 

But, while we may not have to focus on dietary cholesterol, we should monitor the intake of saturated and trans fat in our diets. These two types of fats can increase bad cholesterol (LDL). And high levels of LDL in the blood can lead to atherosclerosis (the hardening of arteries) and increase the risk of heart disease.

Foods high in saturated fat include:

  • Processed meats like bacon and sausage
  • High fat cold cuts like bologna and salami
  • High fat red meat, such as, ribs, ground beef, and fatty pieces of steak
  • Fried foods
  • Full fat dairy like whole milk, cheese, butter

​Foods rich in trans fat include:

  • Processed sweets like pie crust, cookies, cakes, frosting
  • Deep fat fried foods
  • Margarine and spreads that contain partially hydrogenated oil
  • Foods that contain partially hydrogenated oil 
  • Animal foods and dairy products 

The American Heart Association recommends that those adults who would benefit from lowering their LDL cholesterol should:

  • Reduce saturated fat to no more than five to six percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day that’s about 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat.
  • Reduce the percent of calories from trans fat.

Nutrition Content of Eggs

One extra large egg (whole with the yolk) contains:

  • 80 calories
  • 5.8g fat 
  • 1.8g saturated fat 
  • 216mg cholesterol 
  • 80mg sodium 
  • .4g carbohydrate 
  • 0g fiber 
  • 4g sugar
  • 7.3g protein 

All of the saturated fat resides in the yolk. With that being said, even if you were to eat one yolk per day, you still wouldn't hit the maximum intake of 11 to 13 grams of saturated fat.

Aside from saturated fat, the yolk of the egg is actually nutrient dense, containing vitamin D, essential fatty acids, and protein. Eggs are naturally low in carbohydrate too.

Eating a modified, lower carbohydrate diet can help to manage blood sugars. When eating eggs, balance out the saturated fat by being mindful of what you are eating them with and what other foods you've eaten that day. For example, instead of bacon and eggs with hash browns, choose a broccoli, egg, and avocado omelet with whole grain toast. 

Here are some other great egg ideas: 

5 Simply Delicious and Nutritious Lower Carbohydrate Breakfast Choices

Diabetes Breakfast Omelets 

How to Make a Frittata

Sources

Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. March 30, 2015. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/PDFs/Scientific-Report-of-the-2015-Dietary-Guidelines-Advisory-Committee.pdf

American Heart Association. Know Your Fats. March 30, 2015. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp

National Institute of Health. Vitamin D Fact Sheet. March 30, 2015. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

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