Dietary Cholesterol: the Good vs. the Myth
For many years, dietary cholesterol has been getting a bad rap. Previously blamed as a main factor in increasing LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol in the body, US Dietary Guidelines as recently as 2010 encouraged individuals to avoid foods high in cholesterol, such as egg yolks, butter, meats, etc. However, today, the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognize that dietary cholesterol does not have the impact on blood cholesterol that was previously believed.
What is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that aids in digestion, hormone production, and vitamin D production. Your body produces some cholesterol on its own, but it can also be found in foods originating from animals, e.g., meat, dairy, and eggs.
With cholesterol, you aren’t what you eat
As information about nutrition has progressed, research has shown that there is in fact no relation between intake of cholesterol-rich foods and levels of cholesterol in the body!
The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have finally incorporated this information and created new recommendations regarding intake of cholesterol. In fact, the guidelines place no limit on the amount of cholesterol individuals should eat, stating that “the kind of cholesterol in the foods we eat isn’t the driving factor for the kind of cholesterol doctors care about,” according to Foodinsight.org.
Genetics, age, weight, and sex all have a larger impact on a person’s cholesterol levels than dietary cholesterol. Diet can still play a role in blood cholesterol levels, but dietary cholesterol itself has no effect. Instead, following a healthy lifestyle, including being physically active and eating a balanced diet, can have a significant impact on overall health and cholesterol levels.
Healthy, nutrient-dense, whole foods, such as dairy, seafood, and eggs, that were previously avoided due to presence of dietary cholesterol can now be consumed with confidence as a part of healthy and nutritious diet.
Still worried about saturated fat? Not all foods are created equally
Unlike meats, cheeses, and most foods that contain higher levels of both saturated fat and dietary cholesterol, eggs (specifically egg yolks) have lower levels of saturated fat in relation to their level of cholesterol, making them a good alternative to other sources of animal protein if you’re hoping to cut back on saturated fat, say the Dietary Guidelines.
Eggs are OK
Don’t let out-dated information about dietary cholesterol stop you from enjoying and benefitting from nutritious whole foods like wholesome eggs!