Brookwood Baptist Health Blog

Stories and tips for a healthy lifestyle


Feb 10, 2016
What You Need to Know - Cholesterol

Recently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee released its new proposed dietary guidelines. The largest change, and perhaps the one that surprised the most people, was the change in cholesterol recommendations. The DGAC totally removed all guidelines for cholesterol consumption, replacing the 40 year long recommendation to limit cholesterol consumption to 300 mg per day (an amount easily exceeded by just 2 eggs).

Due to this being such a drastic change, we decided to consult one of Brookwood Baptist Health’s cardiologists, Dr. Hutton Brantley, MD, on his thoughts about the change and what it meant for those with heart conditions.

“Most of the cholesterol in your body is made in-house, by your liver, which means the effect of dietary cholesterol is minimal.  Roughly 15% of our circulating cholesterol in the blood comes from our diet and 85% from our liver.” Explained Dr. Brantley about what lead the committee to its decision.

“This report is monumental as these recommendations by the committee will likely become our new guidelines if accepted by the USDA and HHS.” Dr. Brantley said, indicating how this change could impact people. “This will help set policy for things like how we feed our children at school and how we educate the public about healthy eating habits.”

So this decision will impact government policy, but should it change our eating habits?

Dr. Brantley suggests that it shouldn’t. While the current evidence does not present a correlation between dietary cholesterol and cholesterol levels and heart disease, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t watch what we eat any more.

“The committee has retained the 10% daily saturated fat recommendation for 2015.” reminds Dr. Brantley, including that, “The report also recommends that no more than 10% of calories come from added sugar, which amounts to about 12 teaspoons of sugar per day. The average American takes in between 22-30 teaspoons of sugar per day. “

“By eating the right foods the nutrients will work themselves out naturally. By focusing just on the nutrient concept we typically invent ways to eat poorly. There is strong and consistent evidence showing that reducing saturated fat in your diet is far more effective at reducing your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) levels and preventing cardiovascular events.”

If you’re looking to limit your heart disease risk through diet, Dr. Brantley suggests “eating more fiber-rich fruits and veggies, include omega-3 and monounsaturated fatty acids and limit the consumption of red and processed meats, added sugars, and refined grains.” But the most important change you can make is limiting saturated fats and cutting out trans fats entirely.

“No single food or ingredient can make you magically healthy, so next time you are at the grocery store your goal should be to incorporate a variety of healthy foods that can be cooked in healthy ways, and then make these habits your new lifestyle.” Dr. Brantley advocates, “But remember balance is key and everything, including eggs, should be in moderation. Cholesterol still matters just not as important in the foods you eat.”

In the end, while commending the change in recommendation, Dr. Brantley stressed the importance of not thinking that your cholesterol levels don’t matter anymore. “Patients should not construe these headlines to believe they may not need their cholesterol medication. We clearly still need to monitor and manage high serum cholesterol levels for prevention of future cardiovascular events. “

If you’re worried about your cholesterol or any other heart problems, Brookwood Baptist Health has many wonderful cardiologists. To make an appointment, use the Find a Doctor tab.