New Dietary Guidelines and Cholesterol
Saba Zahid, RD
Patient Experience Manager
Over the past several decades, we have always been advised to be cautious of eating cholesterol-laden foods. Along with this recommendation, consumption of eggs (high in cholesterol) has been a highly contested debate, with the opinion of whether they are ok or not changing every few years. However, the long-standing recommendation of avoiding cholesterol-laden foods has now been withdrawn with the release of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Scientific evidence suggests that dietary cholesterol (cholesterol that comes from our food) actually does not impact blood cholesterol significantly. Thus, the past suggestion of a 300-milligram daily limit of cholesterol may not have been useful to the majority of the population. A minority of individuals are hypersensitive to dietary cholesterol and it can impact their blood cholesterol levels, so these individuals should continue to be careful of cholesterol-rich foods.
For the remainder of the population, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines withdrawal of a cholesterol recommendation does not mean that all foods we previously limited, such as red meats, butter, and full-fat dairy, can now be consumed without caution. The reason for this is these foods high in cholesterol are also high in saturated fat. Scientific evidence indicates that it is saturated fat, rather than dietary cholesterol, that impacts blood cholesterol levels. So while some foods such as eggs, shrimp, and lobster (high in cholesterol but not saturated fat) are no longer on the “no-fly” list, we must continue to be careful of other foods, like red meats, butter, and full-fat dairy, that are high in saturated fat.