2015 Nutrition Report Runaround


Every five years the U.S. Department of Health reviews and updates the government’s dietary guidelines to help Americans live healthfully and prevent disease. This starts with a report from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) evaluating current medical research. This recent report (Feb 2015) created a firestorm of headlines that unfortunately seemed to miss the point. First, let’s start with a summary from the 600 page DGAC report itself:

“The overall body of evidence examined by the 2015 DGAC identifies that a healthy dietary pattern is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat… consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages as well as refined grains was identified as detrimental…”

Yet, here are some headlines, you might have read or heard:
“New Dietary Guidelines Reverse Recommendations on Cholesterol”
“Nutrition Panel Calls for Less Sugar and Eases Cholesterol and Fat Restrictions”
“Ending the War on Fat”  

The problem with such headlines and the related articles is that they do not differentiate between dietary cholesterol levels and blood cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol is the amount of cholesterol that a food contains. Foods high in cholesterol include organ meats, red meats, shellfish, egg yolks, and dairy products.

However, when referring to your lab report from your physician, having “high cholesterol” means you have high blood cholesterol. High cholesterol on your lab report is a condition in which a person has too much of a particular cholesterol compound called Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) in their blood. In Prescription for Life I refer to this as the “Lethal” cholesterol. Someone with high LDL cholesterol has an increased chance of experiencing heart disease and stroke. In fact, over 50% of American’s die from the battle that high LDL cholesterol rages against their arteries.

Ultimately, the food we eat is what raises our blood cholesterol. This is what I want to clarify ― the DGAC recommendation is to no longer list dietary cholesterol as a restricted item. But, articles from respected news sources hinted at the conclusion that it is now okay to eat all those “cholesterol foods” that we had been taught not to eat, such as bacon, beef, cheese, and eggs. It seems that these articles are giving the public a runaround for ratings, because this is not what the DGAC report stated.

Foods that are high in dietary cholesterol should not necessarily be back on the table. Generally, foods that are high in dietary cholesterol are also high in saturated fat. My future posts will explain the danger of saturated fats, also targeted in the 2015 Nutrition Report, as well as the recurring question regarding egg yolks and cholesterol.

The DGAC’s recommendations are right in line with the Prescription for Life plan where I focus on healthy, enjoyable foods,such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, pasta, fish, and chicken. When reading news reports, be aware of the difference between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Continue protecting your arteries from the LDL “splinters” that are derived from the foods we eat.




“Doctor with board” photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net