New Cholesterol GuidelinesIvan Bare
Cholesterol No Longer a Concern
Many nutritionists and heart doctors now believe that, for a healthy adult, cholesterol consumed at mealtimes does not significantly affect blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
New Dietary Guidelines
In a draft report issued in December 2014 an influential US federal panel, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, dumped longstanding guidelines about avoiding high-cholesterol food. In the document, cholesterol found in foods, such as egg yolks and shrimp, is no longer listed as a “nutrient of concern.”
Eggs Are Back
“The proposed change on cholesterol would be in line with the positions of other health groups”, said Robert Eckel, past president of the American Heart Association. That means that, while a person might be able to eat more eggs, shrimp and lobster under the new guidelines, they would still need to limit foods heavy in saturated fat like prime rib, bacon, cheese and butter. Likewise, people with diabetes should still be careful about consuming too much cholesterol, which may increase their heart risks, Eckel says.
Cholesterol is essential for your health
Still, even if you ate zero animal foods, you’d still have cholesterol in your body. That’s because your liver produces cholesterol and it’s needed for several key functions, including the making of hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest food. While cholesterol is vital, it isn’t considered to be an essential nutrient, meaning something you must obtain from foods, like vitamin C. That’s because your body produces all of the cholesterol it needs. Research has found that diet influences only about 15 percent of a person’s blood cholesterol levels. The rest is governed by genetics and liver function.
Changing the Focus
Recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommendations suggest that cholesterol is no longer the cause for concern researchers once thought. Instead, current data suggest that excessive amounts of salt and sugar as well as saturated fat and trans fats are more to blame than cholesterol for cardiovascular disease as well as other chronic diseases.
United States Department of Agriculture Department of Health and Human Services. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, available online.