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After nearly 40 years, cholesterol may bow out of dietary guidelines

Image: Eicode Nederlander

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group that vets the science behind the nation’s Dietary Guidelines, has determined that cholesterol no longer needs to be considered a “nutrient of concern.”

This adds to the growing speculation about what will be included in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines will be released by the USDA later this year. They are reviewed every five years and have a broad impact on American life, influencing everything from what is included in school lunches to the kinds of dietary advice Americans receive.

This change could undo nearly four decades of warnings about the adverse health effects of cholesterol.

Peter Whoriskey (@peterwhoriskey) reports for the Washington Post:

“The finding follows an evolution of thinking among many nutritionists who now believe that, for healthy adults, eating foods high in cholesterol may not significantly affect the level of cholesterol in the blood or increase the risk of heart disease.

The greater danger in this regard, these experts believe, lies not in products such as eggs, shrimp or lobster, which are high in cholesterol, but in too many servings of foods heavy with saturated fats, such as fatty meats, whole milk, and butter.

The new view on cholesterol in food does not reverse warnings about high levels of “bad” cholesterol in the blood, which have been linked to heart disease. Moreover, some experts warned that people with particular health problems, such as diabetes, should continue to avoid cholesterol-rich diets.”

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee produces and files its report with the Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA. The agencies could choose to ignore their recommendations, but that is not likely to occur.

There has long been disagreement among scientists about cholesterol, so this change doesn’t come as a surprise to some scientists.

“It’s turned out to be more complicated than anyone could have known,” said Lawrence Rudel, a professor at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

This is a long article, but well worth reading.

If you’d like to learn more about the fifteen individuals who serve on The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, click here for an announcement of their appointment.