No food defines breakfast more than eggs. From scrambled to hard-boiled or over easy, eggs have been an absolute staple of A.M. cuisine for centuries.
It’s easy to see why: besides the fact that they’re delicious, eggs also offer a host of nutritional benefits like protein, vitamin D, vitamin B6, and zinc. No wonder humans have used eggs to start their mornings since the days of ancient Rome.
Of course, moderation is key across most areas of life, and it appears egg consumption falls into that category as well. A new study just released by the University of South Australia finds that “excessive” egg consumption can increase an individual’s odds of developing diabetes considerably.
More specifically, researchers conclude that people who habitually eat one or more eggs (50+ grams) every single day put themselves at a staggering 60% higher risk of diabetes.
Even regularly eating less than one egg per day (38+ grams) is associated with a 25% higher diabetes risk. This is especially true for women in comparison to men.
Conducted over 18 years (1991-2009), this project is the first ever to track and evaluate the health effects of egg consumption over a long period among Chinese adults. Researchers from Qatar University and China Medical University also collaborated on this study.
In all, data on 8,545 adults were included in these findings, with the average participant being roughly 50 years old at the beginning of the observation period.
While this research focused on Chinese citizens exclusively, its findings are certainly worth considering no matter where you’re from. Eggs are a food that transcends borders and nations. Across virtually all cultures and continents, from Paris or Berlin to Morocco and Beijing, countless people make eggs a part of their morning ritual.
Interestingly, researchers note that over the past few decades egg consumption among participants steadily increased. For example, adults were only eating 16 grams of eggs daily between 1991-1993 but that amount increased to 31 grams per day by 2009.
Meanwhile, diabetes rates within China specifically and on a worldwide scale have continued to rise. As of now, it’s believed that 11% of the Chinese population suffer from diabetes, as well as 8.5% of the global population as a whole.
“Diet is a known and modifiable factor that contributes to the onset of Type 2 diabetes, so understanding the range of dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence of the disease is important,” says UniSA’s Dr. Ming Li in a university release. “Over the past few decades China has undergone a substantial nutritional transition that’s seen many people move away from a traditional diet comprising grains and vegetables, to a more processed diet that includes greater amounts of meat, snacks and energy-dense food.”
“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,” he continues.
The research team stresses that their findings do not verify a causal relationship between egg consumption and the onset of diabetes. As of now, all they can confirm is that eating eggs is positively associated with increased diabetes risk.
“To beat diabetes, a multi-faceted approach is needed that not only encompasses research, but also a clear set of guidelines to help inform and guide the public. This study is one step towards that long-term goal,” Dr. Li concludes.
One may assume that the United States leads the way when it comes to the number of eggs eaten per day, but Europe came in at number one for average daily egg consumption between 1991-2009 with 33.65 daily grams per citizen. The USA was a somewhat close second with an average of 28.43 grams per day.
None of this should scare you away from enjoying your favorite egg-centric breakfast from time to time. That being said, don’t eat eggs every day. Instead, opt for some oatmeal, cereal, or fruit a few mornings per week.
The full study can be found here, published in the British Journal of Nutrition.