Egg Consumption Positively Affects Glycemic Control and Insulin Sensitivity in Individuals With Pre- and Type II- Diabetes

Featured article in the June, 2018 Issue of Nutrition Research Update; written by Shirin Pourafshar, PhD

The prevalence of type II-diabetes mellitus is increasing in the United States (U.S.).1 Interventions that target the early stages of its pathogenesis (i.e. pre-diabetes) before individuals are diagnosed with type II-diabetes would be ideal for preventing its development.

Without appropriate interventions, pre-diabetes is typically followed by type II-diabetes mellitus at an annual rate of about 10%.2,3 The influence of diet on the development of type II-diabetes mellitus has been studied for years; however, it is necessary to find dietary interventions that will effectively reduce the risk of type II-diabetes especially in those who are at a higher risk such as overweight and obese individuals. One of the key recommendations in the 2015-2020 dietary guidelines for Americans is a diet that includes a variety of protein foods, such as seafood, lean meat and poultry, as well as eggs and legumes.4 Eggs have important nutrients including proteins, vitamins, e.g. A, E, and B12, minerals, carotenoids, and lecithin. Thus, the objective our study was to investigate the effect of egg consumption on lipid profile and glycemic control factors in overweight and obese individuals with pre- or type II-diabetes.

A total of 42 individuals between the ages of 40 to 75 years who were overweight or obese and had pre- and type II-diabetes were included in our 12-week study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either: one large egg per day to be incorporated into their usual diets for 12 weeks; or control in which participants received an equivalent amount of egg substitute in terms of calories incorporated into their usual diets for 12 weeks. Serum and plasma samples were analyzed for total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein, triglyceride levels, apolipoprotein A1 (apoA1), fasting blood glucose levels, insulin levels, and ATP-binding Cassette Transporter A1 (ABCA1) levels at baseline, 6- and 12-week. Questionnaires were used for monitoring dietary and physical activity patterns over the 12 weeks of the study.

Overall, the findings of our study suggest that eggs can serve as cost-effective source of protein, vitamins and other nutrients which do not have any adverse effects on lipid profile and may improve blood glucose levels in overweight and obese individuals with pre- and type II-diabetes. The results of this study showed significant improvement in ABCA1 protein and resulted in improved apoA1 values – both of which are involved in high-density lipoprotein metabolism. As such, it would be of interest to further study the relation between the above-mentioned parameters and how egg consumption can positively impact these values in this population. Unlike the common misconception about dietary cholesterol and eggs, the results of this study showed no adverse effects on total cholesterol levels in the group that consumed eggs. Thus, it can be concluded that eggs are a great breakfast alternative and can be consumed as nutrient-dense snacks to be used between meals in individuals with type II-diabetes. Further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms by which eggs can improve lipid profiles in association with glycemic control factors.


Shirin Pourafshar, PhD is a T32 NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Division of Nephrology at University of Virginia. Shirin is a recipient of the Egg Nutrition Center’s Dissertation Fellowship award. 

This study was conducted at Florida State University, Department of Nutrition, Food and Exercise Sciences and Center for Advancing Exercise and Nutrition Research on Aging.



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  4. ervices UDoHaH: 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. US Government Printing Office Washington, DC, 2015