Warnings on cholesterol in diet on way out

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- Eggs and shellfish might be back on the menu.

The government's top nutrition advisors are dropping their cautions about cholesterol in the diet.

But don't go overboard just yet.

For years, Americans have been encouraged to limit foods with high cholesterol such as eggs and shellfish.

The belief was they led to artery-clogging cholesterol in the blood.

So we were told to keep cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day.

That's a little more than an egg a day.

But now, armed with new science, government health advisers decided at their last meeting to drop warnings about cholesterol in the diet.

"Consuming high cholesterol foods like eggs and shellfish do not raise your blood cholesterol,"s says Emily Rubin, R.D., a registered dietitian with Thomas Jefferson University Hospital's Gastroenterology and Hepatology department.

Rubin says foods with trans fats and saturated fats are the real cholesterol culprits.

"French fries, potato chips, cookies have no cholesterol in them but yet they are more of an issue with raising cholesterol," she said.

And regardless of food, the liver makes most of the cholesterol in the blood - and some people are genetically predisposed to making more.

For them, a healthy diet, exercising more, and keeping their weight down will do more for cholesterol levels than banning foods like eggs.

Rubin says even her patients on the Atkins diet, which allows a lot of eggs, didn't have cholesterol problems.

"Interestingly enough their cholesterol dropped, and the reason why is because they lost weight," she notes.

Rubin says hard-boiled eggs are one of her top 10 favorite snacks or breakfasts, as she pulls a hard-boiled egg from her lunch bag.

The federal advisory panel suggested that diabetics may still be advised to limit eggs, but Rubin doesn't think that's necessary.

"Even for a diabetic, an egg will be much better for blood sugar than for them to have a bowl of cereal, because that would raise their blood sugar more than an egg," she says.

Rubin points out that eggs also have Omega-3 and Vitamin E, which are very heart healthy.

The new advice will be included in the "Dietary Guidelines," which help determine what's in school lunches, how food makers advertise products, and is the source other experts base their advice on.

If you take a cholesterol lowering medication such as a statin, you need to continue taking that because that works on the cholesterol in your blood.

Also, while eggs may be getting a green light, keep in mind things like cheese and bacon still have saturated fat, so you want to limit them.
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