After Decades of Avoiding Cholesterol… Now it’s All Good?

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cholesterol3Every five years, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) publish a set of Dietary Guidelines that provide the most up-to-date advisories for optimal nutrition intake. Focusing on enhancing the health of all United States citizens, the agenda shapes the diets of children and adults at work, school, and home. Massive amounts of research and studies are considered when composing the guidelines and every cycle, new information is provided and old recommendations are debunked.

Such is the case for one of the most basic food items readily available to any person in any location at any time of year – the egg. Avoiding the yolk, the egg-white omelet has taken over the breakfast plate. Fear of cholesterol has prompted us to throw away millions of nutrient-rich egg yolks over the years. We have avoided other foods “high” in cholesterol as well such as cheese, meat, shrimp and lobster. For decades Americans have followed the mantra of limiting cholesterol-rich foods, but advice may be changing.cholesterol1

cholesterol2As researchers have been studying cholesterol, they have finally come to the conclusion that there just is not strong enough evidence to support the theory that ingesting larger amounts of cholesterol is directly linked to higher amounts of artery-clogging cholesterol in our bloodstreams. In fact, the American Heart Association was already covering this back in 2013; New federal guidelines may lift dietary cholesterol limits.

Cholesterol is a lipid, or a fat, that is an essential component of cell membranes. The body needs cholesterol to produce important hormones such as estrogen and testosterone and bile which is the acid that aids in digestion and the breakdown of fats. There are two types of blood cholesterol. The low-density lipoproteins (LDL) send the fats to the artery walls, which is a negative effect. The high-density lipoproteins (HDL) extract cholesterol away from the blood stream and to the liver to be broken down and expelled.cholesterol5

According to page 7 of the recently released Food and Nutrient Intakes, and Health: Current Status and Trends from the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC), “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption”. Read the Washington Post article, The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol.  Look closely at the graph on egg consumption in the U.S. after 1945. Continue reading the Forbes article, Why Eggs and other Cholesterol-Laden Foods Pose Little or No Health Risk. Time magazine also reports that Cholesterol Is Not a ‘Nutrient of Concern’.

cholesterolThis is not to say that we can now over indulge in foods that contain cholesterol. Regulating what we put in our bodies is still a predominant rule; it is important to learn about the nutrients in any food. Read News guide: Dietary guidelines may contain some new advice, but key recommendations stay same from the Star Tribune. According to ABC News, the New Cholesterol Guidelines Mean These Foods Could Be Back on the Table – take a look at the list and watch the video clip.

Scientists and researchers continue to study foods and nutrition and their effects on human consumption and health. It is important that these dietary guidelines are monitored and updated. It is vital for the organizations that are designed to offer guidelines to keep us healthy to analyze the health data and records. Even with those guidelines, though, we still need to take steps to educate ourselves about how nutrition is important to our own personal health. Exercise and including plenty of fruits and vegetables is essential to a healthy lifestyle and feeling good. Moderation and common sense is a key factor when eating any type of food and is a philosophy to live (and eat) by.

Newspaper Activities

As you read the local newspaper this week, watch for coverage about nutrition and health and the research that helps to provide dietary guidelines. As we realize that the health professionals ‘got it wrong’ about cholesterol, why is it important to still continue with nutrition research and studying health records? How do you use nutrition guidelines to help you choose foods to eat?


For additional information, check out Michelle Obama's Let's Move Web site.

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