Your nutrition plan is one of the most important and potentially effective treatment tools to manage your diabetes. The objectives of your diabetes diet are controlling your blood sugar and reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications. Eggs may be a concern because they contain large amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats, nutrients that may contribute to your cardiovascular risk. When eaten in moderation, as part of a heart-healthy nutrition plan, you can include eggs as part of your diabetes diet unless your doctor recommends otherwise.
Fats, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease
Having diabetes increases your risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, characterized by cholesterol-laden deposits in the walls your arteries that obstruct blood flow. Abnormal blood fat levels further contribute to your risk of developing atherosclerosis. Your diabetes health care team will monitor your blood fat levels, including triglycerides and good and bad cholesterol. A heart-healthy diet is recommended for all diabetics to help reduce your risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
Eggs and Fats
Eggs are a nutritious food, packed with high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals. The nutritional drawback of including eggs in your diabetes diet, however, is the fat content. A large egg contains approximately 210 mg of cholesterol and 1.6 g of saturated fats; a small egg contains 155 mg of cholesterol and 1.2 g of saturated fats. The good news is that all of the fat in eggs is in the yolk, which means it is easy to separate out.
Incorporating Eggs into Your Diet
The best option in terms of limiting your fat intake is to use egg whites instead of whole eggs. Egg whites work well for omelets or scrambled eggs. You can also boil whole eggs and remove the yolk after cooking. If you occasionally want to include whole eggs in your diet, eat small eggs. You can also try mixing egg whites with whole eggs. For example, to prepare a three-egg omelet, use one small whole egg and two large egg whites. Use a nonstick pan or cooking spray to avoid adding fat to the dish. A similar approach works with egg salad; use one small whole egg for every three to four large egg whites. For baked goods, consult a diabetes cookbook or talk with your nutritionist about making substitutions for whole eggs.
When you include eggs in your daily meal plan, limit the cholesterol and saturated fats in other foods you eat throughout day to make sure you do not consume excess amounts of these fats. Regular exercise also helps keep your blood fat levels balanced. If your doctor prescribes cholesterol-lowering medication, be sure to take your prescription as directed. Keeping your blood fat levels within a healthy range reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- American Heart Association; Cardiovascular Disease & Diabetes; September 2010
- USDA Agricultural Research Service: What's in the Foods You Eat Search Tool
- American Heart Association; Cooking for Lower Cholesterol; May 2011
- American Heart Association; Cholesterol Abnormalities & Diabetes; September 2010
- American Diabetes Association: Lean Meats