by Alyssa Tindall, RD, Jennifer Fleming, MS, RD, and Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, FAHA
The USDA 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been released. One topic of discussion is that there is no recommendation for dietary cholesterol. Since 1980, the Guidelines have been issued every five years and until now have included the same recommendation for dietary cholesterol, which has been to consume less than 300 mg./day. So why the change? According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, comprised of highly acclaimed scientists, there is not adequate evidence available to set a limit for dietary cholesterol in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. However, in the FAQ section of the Guidelines, it is noted that 'cholesterol is still important to consider when building a healthy eating style.' In fact, the Guidelines state that people should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible. Got more information, visit: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines-answers-your-questions.
Here is a quick refresher on cholesterol found in food: it is a waxy substance in animal products, such as meat, poultry and full-fat dairy products. However, the liver can make all the cholesterol your body needs for important functions like maintaining healthy cell membranes and building key hormones. While the new Guidelines do not make a specific recommendation for dietary cholesterol, paying attention to your cholesterol intake will be helpful in following a healthy eating pattern that is low in saturated fat, trans-fat, and added sugars. This is because many foods that contain cholesterol, such as butter and full-fat dairy products, are also sources of saturated fat, for which there is a specific recommendation to limit intake.
In fact, butter and full-fat dairy products are not part of a healthy eating pattern. The Guidelines recognize that you do not eat foods in isolation. Rather, you eat them as part of a healthy eating pattern. Key recommendations in the Guidelines are to decrease saturated fat, sodium and added sugars, and to follow a healthy eating pattern that contains nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Nutrient dense foods include colorful vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, plant and animal protein foods, and liquid vegetable oils.
The Guidelines recommend three different healthy eating patterns: the Healthy U.S.-Style Eating Pattern, the Mediterranean-Style Eating Pattern and the Vegetarian Eating Pattern. These eating patterns can be customized to align with cultural and personal preferences. They provide flexibility in implementing a healthy eating pattern that will lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. There are valuable resources on the USDA website to help you follow the Guidelines and stick to one of the recommended eating patterns at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov
Check out these heart healthy recipes to help you limit cholesterol, saturated fat, sodium and added sugar intake!
Cinnamon Baked Pear & Fat-free Ricotta Cheese
Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili