Nutrition Unscrambled

Egg consumption as part of an energy-restricted high-protein diet improves

By Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD
July 28th, 2011

Many health professionals and consumers have upon occasion admitted to me that they thought “the egg got a bad rap” during the 1980s and 90s, when eggs were seen as an icon for dietary and serum cholesterol. They are often proud to say that they personally defied common wisdom by continuing to consume eggs. As scientific technology improved and confounding variables were better controlled, scientific findings and dietary guidance moved away from looking at egg intake as a risk factor and now focuses on the many nutritional benefits of consuming eggs. However, one curious association has continued to plague the egg. Epidemiological findings have shown, at times, an association between egg intake and cardiovascular disease in the diabetic population. No mechanism has been identified to explain this association however, the fact that eggs are often accompanied by a high saturated fat, high refined carbohydrate and sedentary lifestyle may have made egg intake in this population an artifact or marker of poorly controlled diabetes.

Fortunately, a recently published study in the British Journal of Nutrition by Pearce, Clifton and Noakes (Br J Nutr, Feb 2011, 105(4):584-92) attempted to assess the effect of egg intake on biomarkers of cardiovascular disease in free living overweight diabetic adults who have been instructed to eat a high protein, calorie restricted diet with either 2 eggs a day or a substitute source of animal protein. Sixty five subjects, average age of 60 years completed the 12 week study. All consumed 1400 calories/d with a macronutrient distribution of 40% carbohydrate, 30% protein, 30% fat. Subjects were allowed to continue taking diabetic and lipid lowering medication as prescribed by their physician. The treatment group received 2 eggs/day with an average cholesterol intake of 590mg of cholesterol while the control group received a similar quantity of protein from chicken, meat or fish without eggs and an average cholesterol intake of 214mg/day.

As one would expect, both groups that consumed a high protein, calorie restricted diet, lost an average of about 6 kg or 13 pounds. The key finding was that a diet high in dietary cholesterol from eggs did not adversely affect blood lipids or cardiovascular disease risk in adults with type 2 diabetes. In fact, a diet high in dietary cholesterol from eggs improved several biomarkers of health including increased blood levels of HDL, lutein and folate more effectively than the isoenergetic diet which included alternative animal sources of protein. The authors conclude “These results suggest that a high protein energy restricted diet high in cholesterol from eggs may have nutritional benefits and assist in metabolic control in individuals with type 2 diabetes.” Many of us knew it all along.

Breakfast is important; tips for making it nutritious

By Mitch Kanter, Ph.D.
January 19th, 2011

An article posted the other day in the Washington Post, Consumer Reports Insights: Breakfast is important; tips for making it nutritious, discusses the importance of the breakfast meal. With respect to eggs, the author states, “…having (eggs) at breakfast helps dieters lose weight … possibly because they’re so filling that they reduce the chance of overeating later. People with normal levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol who limit their intake of saturated fat can safely eat up to seven eggs a week; those with high LDL should limit themselves to four, or use egg whites or an egg substitute.” Recent research conducted at the University of Connecticut and Louisiana State University, among other places, supports the author’s contentions.

In addition, newer data from the University of Illinois indicates not only the importance of eating breakfast, but also the importance of consuming adequate protein during the breakfast meal to support muscle growth and repair. The typical American eating pattern consists of marginal protein intake at breakfast and lunch, with the largest amount of protein consumed doing the dinner meal. Researchers suggest that protein intake should be spread more evenly throughout the day, with similar quantities (some say as much as 30g per meal) consumed at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Eggs are a great way to ensure optimal protein intake during the breakfast meal.


Nutrition Unscrambled  is written by nutrition experts with the Egg Nutrition Center, which is funded by the American Egg Board. It is monitored and maintained by the public relations agency of record. The mission of the Egg Nutrition Center is to be a credible source of nutrition and health science information and the acknowledged leader in research and education related to eggs. For more information, click here.

About the Bloggers

Mitch Kanter, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about
Mitch, click here.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RD is the Senior Director, Nutrition Education at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Marcia, click here.
Anna Shlachter, MS, RD, LDN is the Program Manager, Nutrition Research and Communications at the Egg Nutrition Center. For more information about Anna, click here.

Upcoming ENC Activities


All information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only and it is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your physician or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or before making changes to your diet or health behaviors.