2015 Dietary Guidelines Sneak Peak: Cholesterol in Diet OK

eggs florentine
Low-Carb Breakfast with Eggs Florentine. Photo © Martin Turzak

We're in a year ending in a 5 or zero, so it's time for the next iteration of the official Dietary Guidelines for Americans! Woohoo!  What can we look forward to this year?

The first hints to come out of the committee working on this is that they are planning to dump the recommendation to limit dietary cholesterol, on the basis that there's no real science behind that recommendation.  This has caused a huge stir!

 Everyone is talking about it!

The thing is, there has NEVER been any science behind that recommendation!

20 years ago I used to yack about this with people on nutrition discussion groups. "Why oh why do they keep telling us to limit cholesterol in our diets?", I asked. "Many countries have never given this advice because....there is no reason to!"

The thinking back 50 years ago was that since they recently decided that cholesterol in the blood had something to do with heart disease, that eating cholesterol must be bad as well. So let's not eat it!  It was more of a "thought" or an "idea" than anything we might want to call a "fact" or something that is "true".

So now they are apparently going to come out and say not to worry about cholesterol in the diet. But of course, they are still going to tell people to severely limit saturated fat and salt in the diet, both of which, again, are probably not necessary for most people.

Will it take another 20 years? 50 years? And what do we do in the meantime?

It wouldn't be such a big deal if so many things weren't based on the guidelines. Perhaps most importantly, our kids are given lunches that conform to the Guidelines and are taught that this is the "right" way to eat. This will probably influence their food choices for the rest of their lives.

There is still a bias away from fats and towards carbs, which our children pick up on.

Also, the Guidelines become the standard by which diets are judged. For example, I've written about the U.S. News and World Report Best Best Diets Web site, which ranks low-carb diets poorly not because of the science, but because the Dietary Guidelines insist that we need to eat lots and lots of glucose (in the form of starches and sugars). So then anyone who reads something like this concludes that cutting carbs is a dangerous thing.

If you're interested in this subject, I suggest checking out a scientific paper criticizing the Guidelines: “In the face of contradictory evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee

I'll be interested to see how the work on the new guidelines progress, and I'll keep updating you.

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