Dietary Cholesterol No Longer Considered a “Nutrient of Concern”

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Finally, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, drafting the 2015 edition of guidelines, has recognized what the research has been saying for decades, that dietary cholesterol is not a threat to overall health. Co-chair of the task force and medical professor at the University of Colorado, Robert Eckel said, “Looking back at the literature, we just couldn’t see the kind of science that would support dietary restrictions.” Steve Nissen, chairman of the cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic is quoted in America Today, “In the latest review of studies that investigated the link between dietary fat and the causes of death, researchers say the guidelines got it all wrong. In fact, the recommendations to reduce the amount of fat we eat every day should never have been made.”

Cholesterol, a component of dietary fat, serves many functions and limiting it can cause serious health problems. In my book, Brain Health for Life, I devote an entire chapter, “Redeeming Fat,” to the research on cholesterol and its many important functions, including being a component of phospholipids, a fatty compound that makes up much of your brain. It is also an important component of all cell structure.

In spite of the medical establishments obsession with lowering cholesterol, decades old studies have explained the benefits of cholesterol. For example, women ages 56 to 70 had the lowest mortality rates when their total cholesterol was between 240 and 280 milligrams/deciliter (mg.dL). Women over 70 with cholesterol levels under 240 mg.dL had greater mortality rates. Men who ate less saturated fat and less total fat, the source of dietary cholesterol, were more likely to have high rates of stroke. It is important to note that dietary cholesterol produced primarily by the liver from our food is not the same as cholesterol in the blood, which may require a medical intervention.

As low fat diets and processed low-fat foods have replaced eggs, meat, full fat dairy products, sugar and salt has been added so the food is more flavorful, but in many cases, less satisfying. The increased sugar consumption is a major contributor to the increase in diabetes which now affects nearly one- third of the US population. (See Chapter 10, Beware Sugar and Sugar Substitutes, in Brain Health for Life).

Once again, the basics win out. Unprocessed food, fresh fruits and vegetables, naturally raised animals; eggs and meat from chickens from naturally raised birds and full-fat dairy are all foods, consumed in moderation, that are components of a healthy diet. Not only are they good for you, rich in nutrients for your brain and body, they are also delicious and satisfying.

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