There are exciting new findings in the world of diet and nutrition, especially for those of us that miss having a side of eggs in the morning! The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, in a report filed with the Department of Health and Human Services, has created new cholesterol guidelines for 2015.
For the past 50 years, the recommendation from U.S. healthcare providers has been to keep cholesterol levels in the American diet low. This warning was in place because of physicians’ longstanding beliefs about cholesterol’s role in the composition of plaque, the artery clogging substance that is a contributing factor in heart disease. With new research however, the committee has come to believe that the impact of certain types of cholesterol may not be as bad as originally thought.
Why the Sudden Change?
What scientific studies have shown over the years, is that a full health assessment is the best way to check for heart disease. Before this revelation, unsafe levels of LDL or “bad cholesterol” was the primary catalyst for doctors to begin heart disease treatment on patients. However, there was not a correlation between eating cholesterol-rich foods and heart disease in otherwise healthy adults. In fact, the majority of cholesterol in the body is created by the liver and only about 20% comes from food.
It is not abnormal for cholesterol levels to increase through adulthood before leveling off around the age of 60. Furthermore, only a minority of the population seems to have an adverse reaction to cholesterol in a way that would cause heart disease.
Researchers have come to the conclusion that genetics, activity levels and weight are greater contributors to heart disease than target LDL numbers. This new level of understanding by the medical community was enough for cholesterol warnings to be dropped from U.S. dietary recommendations.
What Does This Mean for Seniors and You?
Yet, the change in guidelines is not a carte blanche endorsement for consuming high cholesterol foods. Target LDL numbers may become a thing of the past, but the distinction between unsafe LDL and safer HDL “good cholesterol” foods still remains, in part because of cholesterol’s relation to harmful trans-fats. In other words while you may be able to enjoy eggs and other HDL cholesterol foods again, it’s still a good idea to consume foods like fatty meats in moderation.
Before making any changes to your diet remember that these guidelines were meant for healthy adults. Speak with your doctor before making any nutritional changes, especially if you have had a previous heart condition, are on medication(s) or have a chronic illness. To help you through the conversation with your doctor, the American Heart Association offers an in depth analysis of the new cholesterol guidelines.
Seniors, in particular, should also be aware that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s recommendations for 2015 also emphasized that the over-consumption of sugar and sodium are contributors to heart disease. Maintaining an active lifestyle and consuming nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, vitamin D and fiber can help you to keep heart disease at bay.
As always, before making any changes to your diet, consult with your doctor first.
What do you think about these new changes to cholesterol guidelines? Are you more likely to spread some butter on your morning toast, or are you wary of any of these changes. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!