This week, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a group that looks at nutritional recommendations for Americans, presented a preliminary document with new dietary recommendations that could change the way people eat foods high in cholesterol like eggs, shrimp, and lobster.
In the committee’s report, a key takeaway from the new recommendations that’s making headlines is “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
This is a drastic change from the previous guidelines the committee set in 2010, which are revised every five years. At that time, cholesterol was listed under the “foods and food components to reduce” from your daily diet. People were advised to eat less than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol daily. For context, a single egg has around 185 mg of cholesterol.
Many experts believe the potential change in recommendation stems from recent evidence showing that dietary cholesterol has little impact on a healthy person’s risk for heart disease, although people with diabetes may have greater risk.
To be clear, this new view on dietary cholesterol does not change the connection between LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood and its link to heart disease. What the recommendation says is eating foods high in cholesterol doesn’t impact the amount of cholesterol in a person’s blood.
The bigger concern for a person’s risk of heart disease is in how many servings of food high in saturated fat they might be eating, like fatty cuts of beef and pork, processed meats, butter and cream.
So does this mean you can eat all of the eggs or lobster you want? No.
What it does mean is foods higher in dietary cholesterol are fine to eat in moderation as part of a heart-healthy diet – but they shouldn’t be the primary source of food. People need to eat a well-rounded diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains regularly.
A healthy lifestyle is about eating healthy food with the right balance, moderation, portions, and consistency, and also exercising regularly.
Note: The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee will file their report to the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, who set national nutrition guidelines, in the next couple of weeks. The information will be used by the government in their next Dietary Guidelines publication.