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The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee has concluded that there is no evidence to support links between dietary cholesterol and heart disease. This has resulted in the United States top nutrition advisory board dropping all warning against dietary cholesterol.
The new position has been a long time coming. Up to five years ago the committee was still promoting the warning that was first popularized by the American Heart Association in 1961.
Walter Willett, chair of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health says, “There’s been a shift of thinking,” He believes this was a reasonable move by the committee.
New scientific changes
Federal Government has been provided with new science-based recommendations, courtesy of The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. This came in the form of a publication called “Dietary Guidelines.” The publication was used to make valuable decisions. These included dietary advice involving school lunch content, food labeling policy, and the food pyramid.
Embracing the new recommendations and scientific consensus has lead to the discovery that cholesterol in foods such as eggs; shrimp or lobster doesn’t increase blood levels in healthy adults. It also doesn’t increase risk of heart disease. The new consensus warns instead against a diet too high in saturated fat, the nutrient the body uses to make cholesterol. High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood are still considered a risk factor for heart disease. However, the new consensus warns people against diets high in saturated fats.
High levels of LDL, or bad cholesterol, in blood are still a risk factor for heart disease. The changing policy is a good way to represent the scientific advances being made in regards to nutrition. Although this debate may be settled soon, nutrition researchers continue to debate the merits and risks of other foods. These include saturated fat, salt, red meat, sugar, and omega-3s. Stanford University professor and nutrition science critic, John P.A. Ioannidis wrote, “Almost every single nutrient imaginable has peer reviewed publications associating it with almost any outcome, in this literature of epidemic proportions, how many results are correct?” John raises a very good point.
The truth behind faulty science
Americans have believed for years that cholesterol causes heart disease. These beliefs led to the 30% drop in per capita egg consumption. But the scientific warning has never been too strong. In 1913 Niokolai Antischkov and his colleagues at the Czar’s Military Medicine Institute in St. Petersburg began their experiments. They fed rabbits cholesterol and began to notice the development of cardiovascular disease. Research later discovered that rabbits are one of the only animals in the world that respond to dietary cholesterol in this manner.
This was one of the initial ideas that supported a link between cholesterol and heart disease. However, there were always those who considered this evidence against cholesterol to be weak. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association put together a task force in 2013. This concluded the insufficient evidence supporting the warning against the nutrient. “Looking back at the literature, we just couldn’t see the kind of science that would support dietary restrictions,” said the task forces co-chair Robert Eckel, of the University of Colorado. “The U.S. is the last country in the world to set a specific limit on dietary cholesterol,” said nutrition scientist David Klurfeld, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Some of it is scientific inertia.”