A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

What changes in cholesterol warnings mean for your diet

Egg cooked in toast's heart-shaped hole on plateThe nation’s top dietary advisory panel recently released findings that eating high-cholesterol foods doesn’t necessarily lead to high blood cholesterol levels.

While warnings about high levels of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, in the blood and increased risk of heart disease haven’t changed, eating cholesterol-rich foods like eggs, shrimp and salmon isn’t the health concern it once was.

In fact, only about 25 percent of blood cholesterol comes from food (the rest is produced by the liver), and cholesterol is essential for many body functions, said Dr. Shereif Rezkalla, a Marshfield Clinic cardiologist.

Moderation key for cholesterol control

But the findings aren’t a green light to eat all the eggs you want, said Chrisanne Urban, a registered dietitian at Marshfield Clinic.

“The advice I’ve been giving for years hasn’t changed. Variety, moderation and balance are important,” she said.

Fats top concerns – not cholesterol

The national dietary panel turned its attention from cholesterol-rich foods to foods high in saturated fat, like fatty meats and butter. Too many servings of foods high in saturated fat could increase risk of heart disease, according to the panel.

Again, moderation is important when it comes to saturated fat. Some foods, like avocados, contain saturated fat, but healthy fats also found in the fruit can reduce bad cholesterol when eaten in moderation.

Trans fats – often found in baked goods, deep-fried foods and packaged snacks – and saturated fats easily are transformed into bad cholesterol, Rezkalla added.

What does this mean for my diet?

  • Cholesterol-rich foods like eggs and shrimp can be enjoyed in moderation.
  • Be careful of foods high in saturated and trans fat, like fatty meats, baked goods and deep-fried foods.
  • Some foods, like avocados, contain saturated fat but can provide health benefits when consumed in moderation.
  • Your doctor or dietitian can help you learn more about selecting healthful foods and controlling or lowering your blood cholesterol.
  1. Aug 20, 2015
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