The association was identified by Finland researchers who wanted to expand upon egg research within diabetes. Some studies have previously shown egg consumption can improve insulin resistance, while other findings have pointed out the benefits of eggs for heart health.
The University of Eastern Finland study team stress that no causal conclusions can be drawn from the study, but suggest that certain compounds could have a preventative action against type 2 diabetes.
“Eggs are an especially rich source of several bioactive compounds, such as carotenoids and choline, which have been shown to have beneficial effects on, for example, insulin resistance, inflammation, and lipid oxidation and metabolism,” the authors said.
A total of 2,682 men, who were aged between 42-60 years between 1984-1989, were recruited for the study. Using food questionnaires the researchers determined daily egg intake per participant.
After an average follow-up time of 19 years, 432 men developed type 2 diabetes. A selection of 264 participants with a body mass index (BMI) between 20-30 were then divided into four groups so researchers could analyse their egg consumption further.
The findings suggested that eating an average of one egg per day as part of a dietary pattern and healthy lifestyle had greater preventative impact upon type 2 diabetes than eating two eggs per week.
An amino acid called tyrosine was associated with a two-fold increased risk of type 2 diabetes during follow-up, which was impacted further by an unknown compound. Both were found in higher levels in the men who ate fewer eggs.
In trying to understand this association the researchers do not believe dietary cholesterol played a big role. Rather, they believe compounds in eggs may have a role but insist that further investigation is required to explain this relationship.
The findings have been published online in the Molecular Nutrition &Food Research journal.