That's about to change. In February an influential federal panel of experts that advises the secretaries of Agriculture and Health and Human Services announced that even though high cholesterol is indeed a risk for coronary artery disease, cholesterol derived from dietary sources is not really a significant health risk after all. The panel recommends that cholesterol no longer be called a "nutrient of concern" in the newest version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, due out later this year.
How did such a complete switch come about? It turns out that the more nutritionists learned about cholesterol, the more they realized that cholesterol is actually an essential nutrient. It is a component of cell membranes, for example. Furthermore, approximately 80% of the cholesterol in your body is synthesized within the body, primarily by the liver. Because only about 20% comes from dietary intake, restricting dietary cholesterol intake is just not a very effective way to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Another significant change in the last fifty years has been the development of effective cholesterol-lowering drug such as Lipitor. Taking a cholesterol-lowering drug is a far more effective way to lower cholesterol than any change in diet.
Finally, experience has shown that when people are asked reduce their intake of one energy-rich food (saturated fats and cholesterol-rich foods, for example), they naturally tend to substitute something else, and oftentimes that something else is sugar. After all, the only three basic choices are fats, sugars, and proteins! And too much sugar isn't good for us, either.
And so once again we can include bacon and eggs in our diet, guilt-free. All things in moderation, of course.
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