Given all of the well-known benefits to eating eggs—which range from boosting your immune system to helping you lose weight to improving your cognitive health—you may have wondered if it’s possible to eat too many of them. After all, with 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of healthy fat, and lots of vitamins, the humble egg is among the most nutritious foods on the planet. But according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of South Australia, Qatar University, and the China Medical University, the answer is most certainly yes—and the results will surprise you. Read on for more on what the scientists discovered, and for more pressing news about your breakfast, make sure you know why Science Says It’s Dangerous to Drink Your Coffee This Way.
The study, published in The British Journal of Nutrition, focused on nearly 30 years of data (1991 to 2019) for roughly 9,000 adults in China, where diabetes cases are on the rise. “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,” explained Ming Li, MD, Ph.D, an epidemiologist at the University of South Australia. “Diet is a known and modifiable factor that contributes to the onset Type 2 diabetes, so understanding the range of dietary factors that might impact the growing prevalence of the disease is important.”
In light of China’s steady rise in diabetes cases over the years, the researchers set out to assess any links “between long-term egg consumption”—the study notes that egg consumption in China has doubled since 1991—and the disease. Ultimately, they found that eating more than 50 grams per day—or the equivalent of eating one egg per day—”had an increased risk of diabetes by 60 percent.” The study also found that the correlation between daily egg consumption and diabetes was more profound in women than in men.
While Dr. Li was quick to note that more research will need to be done to establish why egg consumption could be linked to diabetes, the study itself offers at least one theory: “Eggs provide essential nutrients including protein, carotenoids, arginine and folate, while its high level of cholesterol has been associated with the increased risk of diabetes from laboratory tests involving impaired insulin secretion.” (The tests they mention were conducted by researchers for a 2012 study published in the journal Diabetes.)
These aren’t the first studies that explore any potential adverse health effects of eating eggs. A study published last year in JAMA found that eating high levels of dietary cholesterol—and eggs specifically—may raise the risk for heart disease and death. “Among [American] adults, higher consumption of dietary cholesterol or eggs was significantly associated with higher risk of incident [cardiovascular disease] and all-cause mortality in a dose-response manner,” the researchers wrote. “These results should be considered in the development of dietary guidelines and updates.”
But if there is indeed a link between eating eggs and diabetes, we should take note. After all, those in China consume roughly 31 grams of eggs per day. In the U.S., we consume 43 grams per day, and according to a report last year by the United States Department of Agriculture, Americans are eating more eggs than they have since World War II: roughly 279 eggs per person over the span of a year. “This idea that eggs are healthy is really what’s driving this increase in consumption,” Jesse Laflamme, the chief executive of Pete and Gerry’s Organics, an egg producer, told The Washington Post.
Eggs or no eggs, if you’re in the market for a better breakfast, read on, because we’ve listed a few healthy suggestions for your first meal of the day below. And for some foods you should definitely avoid, make sure you read up on the 100 Most Toxic Foods on the Planet.
Fish? For breakfast? Yes, you read that correctly. With its high concentration of both protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is a nutritious way to start your day and will leave you feeling fuller for longer.
Peanut butter is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, ultra-rich in nutrients, and it’s one of our favorite foods for weight loss. That’s not all. A 2015 study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that consuming as little as 30 grams of peanuts or peanut butter every week can help decrease the risk of total mortality and death from cardiovascular disease. It boosts feelings of satiety, which makes it a great way to start your day. (Just make sure you’re eating the good stuff, and not jugs containing too much oil.)
Whole Grain Toast
Increased consumption of whole grain foods has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, according to a JAMA Internal Medicine study. So avail yourself of some morning toast, and be sure to avoid processed breads that are secretly high in sugar.
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, having oatmeal for breakfast means you’ll feel fuller for longer and keep your calorie consumption lower than you would with your typical breakfast cereal. And for more great breakfast advice, know that This Simple Coffee Mistake Could Be Damaging Your Body, Says New Study.