Cholesterol: It Isn’t as Bad as You Think


A recent report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is rethinking long-standing rules on the need to avoid high-cholesterol foods. The move to drop cautions about cholesterol in food will halt almost 40 years of government cautions about consuming cholesterol-laden foods. During the group’s last meeting five years ago, the panel stated that high-cholesterol was a public health menace. However, during a recent advisory committee meeting found that foods containing the substance should no longer be a total dietary concern.

The human body provides naturally all the substance the body needs, even so consuming too much cholesterol in food can knock the body out of balance giving us more than what’s required to maintain good health. Good cholesterol is found easily in the human body and provides necessary ingredients to make hormones and other materials used in digestion. The guidelines committee found that eggs were no longer a dietary concern, but upheld previous warnings about low-density lipoprotein (LDL) while uplifting high-density lipoproteins (HDL). LDL lipoproteins are considered bad cholesterol due to their ability to cause a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which can cause strokes and other illnesses while HDL proteins can help break down LDLs from the body.

Recent Dietary guideline committee findings seem to be following the train of thought from some nutritionists who say, that in a healthy adult, HDL protein consumption should not greatly increase the risk of health disease. A greater danger appears to lie in foods that are heavy with saturated and trans fat. These warnings against cholesterol were delivered from an American Heart association report in the 1960s which advised that rabbits who were fed LDL proteins had blockages in their arteries, these concerns led to a quick reduction in the amount of eggs consumed due to their high cholesterol levels.

These new guidelines will be the base for the next issue of Dietary guidelines, a federal publication which provides guidelines for American diets. These guidelines provide a basis to help determine school menus while also serving as a foundation for most dietary advice. Because of this potential guideline reversal, American consumers may begin to eat some foods such as eggs, liver and shrimp with more confidence. By re-evaluating former data and looking at the difference between saturated and heart healthy fat, researchers have determined that they may have been using too broad a brush in regards to the effects of certain cholesterols on the body.

While consumers may now be able to consider higher HDL foods, they should still consume foods like whole milk, butter, cheeses and certain meats with moderation. The committee will be sending its results and final recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services plus the US Department of Agriculture who are expected to produce Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015 later this year. These new guidelines are on par with recommendations that many physicians already use to caution their patients about their diets and the need to get their lipoproteins tested every five years to monitor how much bad cholesterol may be circulating in their blood. However, scientists are still divided on how to best follow the upcoming suggestions.

By Tara Newlands


Boston Globe



Photo by Steve Johnson – Flickr License