Eggs and Diabetes, to Eat or Not to Eat?

Eggs and Diabetes, to Eat or Not to Eat?

Dr Hector Perera        London

Eggs can be fully boiled or half boiled in water or better make omelettes because it taste better. Eggs are a versatile food and a great source of protein, and the American Diabetes Association considers eggs an excellent choice for people with diabetes. That’s primarily because one large egg contains about half a gram of carbohydrates, so it is thought that they aren’t going to raise your blood sugar. We know the fact, eggs are high in cholesterol and still people eat them on regular basis. One large egg contains nearly 200 mg of cholesterol, but whether or not this negatively affects the body is debatable.

Monitoring your cholesterol is important if you have diabetes because diabetes is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This can be easily done at the hospital with a blood test at the diabetic section. High levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream also raise the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. So it’s important for anyone with diabetes to be aware of and minimize other heart disease risks. The best thing is to get blood test done on regular basis.

Benefits of eating eggs

A whole egg contains about 7 grams of protein. The eggs are very nutritive as they are also an excellent source of potassium, which supports nerve and muscle health. Potassium helps balance sodium levels in the body as well, which improves your cardiovascular health. Eggs have many nutrients, such as lutein, which protects you against disease, and choline, which is thought to improve brain health. It’s possible not many people thought about these points.

What about egg yolk?

Egg yolks contain biotin, which is important for healthy hair, skin, and nails, as well as insulin production. Eggs from chickens that roam on pastures will be high in omega-3s, which are beneficial fats for diabetics. Back in Sri Lanka they call them, “Gam Kukulo” but now many are factory farmed or sometimes raised in cages that is very cruel. Eggs are easy on the waistline, too. One large egg has only about 75 calories and 5 grams of fat, only 1.6 grams of which are saturated fat. Eggs are versatile and can be prepared in different ways to suit your tastes. You can make an already-healthy food even better by mixing in tomatoes, spinach, or other vegetables or adding onions, green chilies and tomatoes then with a dash of pepper then not forgetting any curry leaves.

 Diabetes-friendly breakfast recipes

As healthy as they are in so many ways, eggs should be consumed in moderation. Cholesterol concerns

The role of dietary cholesterol as it relates to a person’s total blood cholesterol count appears to be smaller than previously thought. Family history may have much more to do with your cholesterol levels than how much dietary cholesterol is in your food. The bigger threat to your cholesterol levels is food that is high in trans-fats and saturated fats.

What are trans-fats?

There are two broad types of trans-fats found in foods: naturally-occurring and artificial trans-fats. Naturally-occurring-trans fats are produced in the gut of some animals and foods made from these animals (e.g., milk and meat products) may contain small quantities of these fats. Artificial trans-fats (or trans-fatty acids) are created in an industrial process that adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid.

What is Margarine?

Margarine was created in the early 1800s as an inexpensive substitute for butter. Early margarines were made from animal fat. In the 1900s, chemists discovered how to harden liquid oils and vegetable oil replacing animal fat. Margarine is a manufactured, vegetable-oil-based substitute for butter.

How is Margarine Made?

Margarine is manufactured through a multi-step process. Vegetable oils are extracted from corn, cottonseed, soybeans or safflower seeds. Hexane, an organic compound commonly used as a solvent, is used in the extraction process.

The oil is steam cleaned to remove most impurities. Steaming also destroys vitamins and antioxidants.

Hydrogen gas is bubbled through liquid oil in the presence of a catalyst (usually nickel). This force unsaturated fatty acids to become saturated and solid. The more complete the hydrogenation process, the firmer the finished product. Margarine undergoes partial hydrogenation, to make it semi-solid. Partial hydrogenation produces a lumpy grey grease and results in the formation of trans-fats.

Emulsifiers are added to remove lumps; bleach to remove the grey colour.

A second steam cleaning removes chemical odours.

Synthetic vitamins, artificial colours and a natural yellow colour are added. The final product is packaged as a healthy alternative to butter.
The primary dietary source for trans-fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils." Look for them on the ingredient list on food packages. In November 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oils are no longer Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) in human food.

Artificial trans-fats can be formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil more solid (known as hardening). This type of fat, known as hydrogenated fat, can be used for frying or as an ingredient in processed foods. Artificial trans-fats can be found in some processed foods such as biscuits and cakes.

Artificial trans-fats can be formed when oil goes through a process called hydrogenation, which makes the oil more solid (known as hardening).

Are trans-fats bad for you?

Consuming a diet high in trans-fats can lead to high cholesterol levels in the blood, which can cause health conditions such as heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. However, most people in UK don’t eat a lot of trans-fats.

Should I worry about trans-fats?

Trans-fats, like most saturated fats, raise blood cholesterol levels, particularly levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Trans-fats can also reduce the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, as well as increase levels of another form of blood fat called triglycerides. All of these effects of trans-fats can raise your risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Gram for gram, trans-fats appear to increase risk of CHD more than saturated fats, and so are potentially worse for our health.

Which foods contain trans-fats? Naturally-occurring trans-fats are found in small amounts in dairy products, for example cheese and cream, and also beef, lamb and mutton, and products made from these foods. All trans-fats may be potentially unhealthy, no matter what their origin, but if they are present or consumed at low levels, they are unlikely to have a significantly harmful effect. Trans-fats may also be produced when ordinary vegetable oils are heated to fry foods at very high temperatures and this is one reason why takeaway foods can sometimes be high in trans-fats. Even at home try and avoid high temperature frying and cooking. Foods that are produced from or use hardened vegetable oils as an ingredient typically contain some trans-fats (for example, biscuits, pies, cakes and fried foods). Fat spreads and margarines that have hydrogenated vegetable oil as an ingredient will usually contain some trans-fats, although reformulation has led to significant reductions in recent years.

The effects of high cholesterol on the body

Eggs still shouldn’t be consumed in excess if you have diabetes, must know the limits. The current recommendations suggest that an individual with diabetes should consume no more than 200 mg of cholesterol each day. Someone without diabetes or heart health concerns may consume up to 300 mg a day. One large egg has about 186 mg of cholesterol that means maximum of two eggs per time. Remember then there isn’t much room for other dietary cholesterol once that egg is eaten.

Research suggests that high levels of egg consumption may raise the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While the connection isn’t clear, researchers believe that excessive cholesterol intake, when it comes from animal foods, may increase those risks.

Since all of the cholesterol is in the yolk, you can eat egg whites without worrying about how they’re affecting your daily consumption of cholesterol. Many restaurants offer egg white alternatives to whole eggs in their dishes. You can also buy cholesterol-free egg substitutes in the stores that are made with egg whites.

Keep in mind, however, that the yolk is also the exclusive home of some key egg nutrients. Almost all the vitamin A in an egg, for instance, resides in the yolk. The same is true for most of the choline, omega-3s, and calcium in an egg.

Scrambled? Poached? Hard-boiled?

However you like your eggs prepared, try to eat up to three of these versatile wonders each week to take advantage of their protein and carbohydrate benefits. Remember, the healthier the hen, the healthier the egg. Aim for eggs from organic, pastured or free-roaming hens such as from “Gam Kukulo” for an increase in heart-healthy omega-3 fats. If you’re concerned about cholesterol, lower your intake or use egg whites.

So what’s for breakfast?

If you have diabetes, you should limit egg consumption to three a week. If you only eat egg whites, you can feel comfortable eating more. Be careful though, about what you eat with your eggs. One relatively harmless and healthy egg can be made a little less healthy if it’s fried in butter or unhealthy cooking oil. Poaching an egg in the microwave only takes one minute and doesn’t need any additional fat. Likewise, don’t serve eggs with high-fat, high-sodium bacon or sausage very often. Most people just eat eggs and bacons for breakfast.

A hard-boiled egg can be a handy high-protein snack if you have diabetes. The protein will help keep you full without affecting your blood sugar. Protein not only slows digestion, it also slows glucose absorption, which is very helpful if you have diabetes. Having lean protein at every meal and for the occasional snack is a smart step for anyone with diabetes. Just as you’re getting to know the carbohydrate and sugar content of various foods, you should also pay attention to the cholesterol levels and saturated fats in your food. Your comments are welcomed This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr Hector Perera


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