Every 5 years, the federal government releases updates to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This impacts everything from how school lunches are prepared to how our public health campaigns across the nation are shaped. Well, this year’s guidelines saw some pretty big changes. With revisions like no longer calling cholesterol a nutrient of concern to stating that sugar is the new public enemy #1, it seems the government is finally catching up with science.
A Bad Rap
Cholesterol has had a bad rap for a long time. Recommendations to reduce dietary cholesterol started with the American Heart Association in the 1960’s and this fat-fearing mindset has been a mainstay on other guidelines ever since. However, there has been a longstanding debate over the validity of these recommendations.
As recently pointed out by the chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, “The idea we need to limit saturated fat and cholesterol shifted Americans from a well-balanced diet to high-sugar diets, which made people eat more and get fatter.”
Low Fat = High Sugar
When low-fat diets became all the rage, people would buy anything if it said reduced fat or fat-free on the label, but in reality, these “healthy” foods were doing more harm than good.
Fat is the flavor, the good stuff, right? So, how do all those reduced fat salad dressings and fat-free cookies and crackers all still taste so good? Because, in place of that fat, they’ve loaded your food with sugar and other additives so it will still taste good. When a container says low-fat, it really means high-sugar. This has, unknowingly, created a sugar-addicted nation that is fat and sick.
Yes, that’s right. Your low-fat diet has made you fat. But don’t fret! The solution is simple (and delicious!). It’s time to drop the low-fat mindset and embrace full-fat foods. The true enemy is sugar. There is no longer a debate over this. Sugar is not only addictive, but extremely harmful to your health. It is linked to Alzheimers and other neurological disorders, weight gain and diabetes, depression and skin issues… should I keep going??
I’ll Have The Bacon And Eggs, Please!
“Cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”
The days of low-fat, high-sugar diets are seemingly over. It can finally be said that there is no direct correlation between consuming dietary cholesterol and elevated blood serum cholesterol. What does this mean? Well, studies have shown that consuming cholesterol in our diets does not correlate to elevated cholesterol levels in our blood. Actually, only about 15% of cholesterol in our blood comes from food. That is big news!
This does not, however, give you the green light to eat all fatty foods indiscriminately. Just like those low-fat foods were secretly filled with chemicals and additives, many full-fat foods can contain dangerous ingredients as well. Be sure to always read the ingredient list of anything you purchase before assuming it is healthy. You want to consume grass fed cow products, such as butter and milk (if you tolerate dairy) and be mindful of any additives in foods like bacon or full-fat yogurt before consuming them blindly.
How To Use The Dietary Guidelines
So, what do all these changes mean for the country as a whole? The dietary guidelines issued by the federal government have a great impact on our nation. They influence federal food assistance programs, our public health campaigns, even how our public schools plan student lunches. Hopefully, these recent revisions will lead to a shift away from sugary, poor quality foods to more wholesome, nutrient-dense foods in our schools and around the country.
It is hard to break old habits, but the chronic low-fat dieters are going to have to shift their thinking. Fat has always been the enemy, so it will take time, but trust me, eating fat does not make you fat. Eating foods loaded with sugars and chemicals and additives, however, does. It’s time to get back to eating real, whole foods.