For decades we’ve been cautioned against eating too many foods high in cholesterol such as eggs and seafood, but the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) will modify their warning to focus on what they believe is the bigger threat: eating too many unhealthy fats—especially trans fats.
Under the new guidelines, cholesterol will no longer be considered a nutrient of concern—meaning, in this case, something to focus on reducing instead of something to increase in your diet. To help clear things up a bit and explain why the DGAC may be updating their previous recommendations, here are a few things you need to know about cholesterol:
Cholesterol: Fact vs. Fiction
Myth: Cholesterol is bad for you.
Fact: We need cholesterol. It is found in every cell in the body. Cholesterol is needed to make a variety of hormones as well as to help manufacture vitamin D, promote digestive health, and repair damage to the body.
Myth: There are two types of cholesterol, good and bad.
Fact: There is only one cholesterol—but two main “vehicles” that carry it throughout the body. They are known as HDL and LDL. Cholesterol is only the passenger.
3 Important Truths about HDL (“Good”) Cholesterol:
- HDL brings cholesterol to the liver for recycling
- HDL scavenges cholesterol from damaged arteries
- High HDL levels reduce heart disease risk
3 Important Truths about LDL (“Bad”) Cholesterol:
- LDL transports cholesterol away from the liver to damaged tissues and cells
- Small LDL particles can deposit in artery walls and accumulate as plaque
- That plaque can then can inflame artery walls, increasing heart disease risk
The overall goal of the new guidelines is to encourage people to eat more healthy foods that are rich in nutrients their bodies need. You can get a head start on a healthy heart and body by eating plenty of:
- Non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus and cauliflower
- Low-sugar fruits such as avocado, raspberries and grapefruit
- Protein from sources such as tofu, poultry, eggs, fish and yogurt
- Healthy fats such as Omega-3 fats found in fish
- Nuts and seeds