Eggs are known to have a low glycemic index, and they're rich in a variety of essential nutrients. However, you won't find them on your average glycemic index food list or chart. Their low carbohydrate content means that you can automatically consider them to be a low glycemic index food.
Eggs' glycemic index (GI) value is generally low, given the very few carbohydrates in this food. However, according to an August 2016 study in the Journal of Insulin Resistance, an egg's GI value is zero.
Read more: 9 Things You May Not Know About Eggs
Eggs and the Glycemic Index
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the different foods you consume can release glucose at different rates. The glycemic index can help people determine the ways that food products can affect your body's glucose levels. The glycemic index (GI) value of foods is particularly helpful for people with diabetes, pre-diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Glycemic index food lists and charts separate food products into three different categories: low, medium and high. According to the Mayo Clinic, low GI foods have a value between 1 and 55, medium GI foods have a value between 56 and 69 and high GI foods have a value of 70 or more.
You'll find that most glycemic index food charts, like the one on Harvard Health Publishing's website, typically focus on fruits, vegetables, dairy and grain-based food products. Foods with minimal or no carbohydrates, like meat products, tend to automatically fall into the "low glycemic index" section. In fact, the average glycemic index food list or chart won't even include foods like eggs and meat.
According to the August 2016 study in the Journal of Insulin Resistance, eggs' glycemic index is zero. This study stated that foods like oily fish, cheese, almonds, and mushrooms also fall into the very low glycemic range.
Read more: The 20 Best Ways to Use Eggs
Eggs' GI, Nutrition and Benefits
Eggs are rich in a variety of different nutrients. According to the USDA, each large egg (50 grams) you eat has 72 calories, 6.3 grams of protein, 0.4 grams of carbohydrates and 4.8 grams of fat (1.6 grams come from saturated fat). A large egg also contains a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including:
- 5 percent of the daily value (DV) for iron
- 8 percent of the DV for phosphorus
- 28 percent of the DV for selenium
- 6 percent of the DV for zinc
- 9 percent of the DV for vitamin A
- 18 percent of the DV for vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- 15 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
- 5 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
- 6 percent of the DV for vitamin B9
- 19 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
- 5 percent of the DV for vitamin D
Each large egg contains small amounts (between 1 and 4 percent) of other nutrients, including B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Eggs are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, which can help support good eye health.
Given eggs' glycemic index value and abundance of nutrients, regular egg consumption can be beneficial for your health. A small 48-person study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition in June 2016 reported that egg-based meals can help improve satiety.
When combined with dietary fiber, eggs can also help reduce food intake and the body's glycemic response. Given these results, egg consumption may be particularly beneficial for diabetics and people with other metabolic disorders.
Read more: 14 Foods to Help You Get Lean
A small 34-person December 2016 study in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care reported that the consumption of eggs could help diabetics lose weight, specifically by helping reduce their body fat. However, this study found that egg consumption alone did not affect glycemic control. This means that you'll maximize eggs' benefits when you consume them with fiber-rich foods.
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Glycemic Index for 60+ Foods"
- Mayo Clinic: "Glycemic Index Diet: What's Behind the Claims"
- USDA: "Eggs (Raw)"
- Journal of Insulin Resistance: "It Is the Glycaemic Response to, Not the Carbohydrate Content of, Food That Matters in Diabetes and Obesity: The Glycaemic Index Revisited"
- BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care: "Egg Ingestion in Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: Effects on Glycemic Control, Anthropometry, and Diet Quality—A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial"
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition: "The Effects of the Combination of Egg and Fiber on Appetite, Glycemic Response and Food Intake in Normal Weight Adults – A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial"