2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans rescinds restrictions on dietary cholesterol

From the 2015 guidelines (in Part D. Chapter 1: Nutrient Intake and Nutrients of Concern):

Previously, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended that cholesterol intake be limited to no more than 300 mg/day. The 2015 DGAC will not bring forward this recommendation because available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum cholesterol, consistent with the conclusions of the AHA/ACC report. Cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.

Hopefully this will be the end of this particular debate. However, this does not mean that all high cholesterol foods are now healthy. Factors people should still pay attention to include quality and amount of processing. When foods high in cholesterol are heavily processed increased amounts of the cholesterol can become oxidized, which is health concern. Foods like butter and eggs can be health promoting when they come from good sources and potentially detrimental when they come from poor sources. However, it is nice that the guidelines have corrected this after only 35 years of being wrong. Credit where due.

A few other notes about this change:

I thought it would be interesting to look at the original 1980’s guidelines. I was going to critique it, emphasizing how the research never supported theĀ  assumptions and conclusions, but that would take more time than I have. Suffice it to say that it has been known since the 1950’s that dietary and serum cholesterol were not particularly correlated and that the connection between cholesterol and heart disease is also tenuous and complicated.
I’m not suggesting that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans constitutes evidence-based dietary advice. By highlighting this change I wanted to suggest that the debate over dietary cholesterol is over and that we may yet see the Dietary Guidelines make similar reversals in the future. Maybe one day sugar will be a nutrient of concern and saturated fat will follow cholesterol, though it could take another 35 years.

Further reading:

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