Healthy Thursday: Cholesterol Isn’t the Enemy
Every five years, the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Department of Agriculture, issues “Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” a federal publication that has far-reaching implications on what we eat. The guidelines affect everything from the way companies can advertise their products, to what’s in your child’s school lunch, to the diet advice offered up by nearly every doctor and nutritionist in the country.
Now the powers that be have brought us new recommendations for what to eat.
The 112-page report from 2010 included 23 recommendations for the general population and six additional recommendations for specific population groups, such as pregnant women. The three major goals emphasized were:
• Balance calories with physical activity to manage weight.
• Consume more of certain foods and nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products and seafood.
• Consume fewer foods with sodium (salt), saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, and refined grains.
What’s stirring the pot now is one bullet, on one slide (page 7) of thousands of slides, shown at one of seven public hearings held over the last two years to discuss the latest revisions to the guidelines:
“Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for over-consumption.”
So far I agree with these bullet points, these are what I educate with in my “Simple Healthy Fresh” cookbook series. Include plenty of low-carb, low-sodium, fiber-rich vegetables in your diet and do some form of exercise that makes you sweat for an extended period of time.
Why the shift?
Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, told CNN: “The idea we need to limit saturated fat and cholesterol shifted Americans from a well-balanced diet to high-sugar diets, which made people eat more and get fatter.” The reality, according to Nissen, is that only 15% of circulating cholesterol in the blood comes from what you eat. The other 85% comes from the liver. “So if you go on a diet,” he says, “you’re not changing your cholesterol very much.” Still, nutritionists are not recommending you go out and binge on cheeseburgers and fries.
Now you know you don’t have to be so stringent on cholesterol, still, eat foods that are closest to natural, vastly limit your intake of processed, pre-made foods and increase your physical activity.