A federal panel has reversed itself on forty years of dietary guidelines. As usual, natural health physicians were way ahead of this news.
A federal panel, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, run jointly by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the USDA), recently released its Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee withdrawing longstanding guidelines about avoiding high cholesterol foods. For the past forty years the government has warned about consuming food containing too much cholesterol, and as recently as five years ago deemed “excess dietary cholesterol” a problem. Now they’re saying, in effect, “Oops. It’s not a problem after all.”
ANH-USA, following the advice of our natural health experts, has been saying this for ages. In fact, in 2012 we, with several other organizations, submitted formal comment to the FDA on food and supplement facts labeling in which we strongly disagreed with the FDA’s contention that the cholesterol content of food is linked to its effect on blood cholesterol levels, given the contradictory scientific evidence available since the 1950s. We noted that “a detailed meta-analysis in 1992 found that even at moderate dietary cholesterol intakes, little change to serum cholesterol would be expected.”
Cholesterol is the basic building block of all hormones, and most of it is made by our body rather than derived from the food we eat. We’ve also noted that cholesterol isn’t the ticking time bomb most people have been led to think. Dr. Harlan Krumholz of Yale’s Department of Cardiovascular Medicine found that old people with low cholesterol died twice as often from a heart attack as did old people with high cholesterol. A review of nineteen large studies of more than 68,000 deaths by the Division of Epidemiology at the University of Minnesota found that low cholesterol predicted an increased risk of dying from gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.
The committee states that “cholesterol is [no longer]considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.” Unfortunately, they do not reverse their warning against high levels of “bad” cholesterol in one’s blood, because otherwise there would be no justification for the government’s promotion of profit-making cholesterol-lowering statin drugs—even though studies demonstrate that the “LDL cholesterol is bad, HDL cholesterol is good” dichotomy is a gross oversimplification. LDL (“bad” cholesterol) is needed by the body and provides health benefits, such as protecting us from cancer. Low levels don’t even seem to lessen the risk of heart disease.
The committee’s report will be filed with Department of Agriculture and will likely be made the basis of future dietary guidelines—which affects everything from the menus for school lunches to the advertising practices of food manufacturers.