Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland looked at the link between eating eggs and type 2 diabetes, and noted that high-cholesterol foods such as eggs have previously been assumed to increase the risk.
The study involved 2,332 men aged 42 to 60 who took part in a heart disease study in the 1980s. Two decades later 432 men were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
The findings revealed that eggs not only reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes, but also lowered blood glucose levels.
Those who ate around four eggs per week had a 37 per cent lower risk of type 2 diabetes than men who only ate one egg per week.
And the link remained even after taking account of lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking habits and bodyweight.
According to lead researcher Jyrki Virtanen, the association between egg consumption and type 2 diabetes has previously been investigated "only scarcely", and the findings have been inconclusive.
“Egg consumption has either been associated with an elevated risk, or no association has been found,” he said.
Virtanen believes these latest findings underline “the hazards of demonising single dietary ingredients.”
“In addition to cholesterol, eggs contain many beneficial nutrients that can have an effect on, for example, glucose metabolism and low-grade inflammation, and thus lower the risk of type 2 diabetes,” he said.
Related: 10 healthy-eating myths busted
He suggests that the overall health effects of foods are difficult to anticipate based on an individual nutrient such as cholesterol alone.
“Indeed, instead of focusing on individual nutrients, nutrition research has increasingly focused on the health effects of whole foods and diets over the past few years.”