Dietitian Organization Comments About Saturated Fats, Salt, and Carbs

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Comments about Proposed 2015 Guidelines

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It's now May of 2015 and various organizations are responding to the proposed 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines will govern the food school children are served and taught about nutrition, as well as what the general public is advised to eat. They revise the guidelines every five years.

It's always interesting to me to learn how much the Powers That Be are catching up to the science that low-carb authors and researchers have been talking about for so long, and to find out how the media and other organizations respond.

I have written about the proposed changes regarding cholesterol (no more limits!) and sugar (limits are advised, but not as much as the American Heart Association and World Health Organization recommend).

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (I'll just call them "the Academy" here) is the primary professional organization of dieticians and other nutrition professionals. Their recommendations tend to abide by the guidelines proposed by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). They are certainly not inclined to get ahead of the solid evidence with their recommendations. And yet, they have some very interesting criticisms of the proposed dietary guidelines. I am not going to go through their whole critique, but you can read it for yourself if you like. I will just touch on some of the ones that struck me as being...well, actually astonishing for a mainstream nutrition organization, although totally in line with what I and other low-carb writers have been saying for many years.

Of course, the report includes plenty of flattery for the DGAC as well - no point in alienating them, I guess!

Saturated Fats and Carbohydrates

The calls the DGAC's new cholesterol guidelines (that is, not to limit dietary cholesterol) "commendable", and suggests a similar revision to the guidelines on saturated fats.

It talks about how the "Diet-Heart Hypothesis" does not have evidence to support it. The Academy goes on to show that rather than making the recommendation that saturated fats in the diet should be replaced with polyunsaturated fats, "the evidence summarized by the DGAC suggests that the most effective recommendation for the reduction in cardiovascular disease would be a reduction in carbohydrate intake with replacement by polyunsaturated fat" because "carbohydrate contributes a greater amount to the risk for cardiovascular disease than saturated fat". Yes, you read that right!! Dieticians are saying that carbs are worse than saturated fats in contributing to heart disease!!


Essentially, the Academy resists the general recommendation that everyone eat a low-salt diet, since they say it has actually shown to be associated with increased mortality in healthy people. In other words, just because it's good for some people to lower their salt intake doesn't mean it's good for all. The American Association of Family Physicians agrees.

See also: How Much Salt Should We Eat?

More Advice

The Academy tries to emphasize the importance of advice for common patterns of eating that are outside the Guidelines. For people consuming diets in this category (lower-carbohydrate diets were specifically mentioned), there are essentially no guidelines at all, and people are left to figure out for themselves what the healthiest diet is within their food restrictions. I think this is perhaps most starkly illustrated in the diabetic population. For a very long time, diabetics have been encourged to eat in a way that controls their blood glucose, but if they found that this was best done with a low-carbohydrate diet, they were often on their own to figure out how to do it.


I am under no illusions that the DGAC is going to take the advice of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, at least this time around. However, I am very cheered by this development. If the organization for Registered Dietitians, after carefully examining the evidence, are starting to see the light in regards to lower-carb diets and saturated fat, it may bode well for the next generation of students studying these subjects. In addition, since registered dietitians generally are the ones who develop menus for institutions such as schools, hospitals, and prisons, we could be seeing an improvement in the foods people in these places are served in the future. Also, this will give a boost to this information seeping into the media, where it can affect how people approach their eating.

I certainly hope this happens sooner rather than later!

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