- Foods high in cholesterol branded a danger to human health since 1970s
- Now US government is to accept advice to drop cholesterol from list of 'nutrients in concern'
- Doctors are now focusing concern on sugar as the biggest dietary threat
Tuesday, 26 May 2015
Why butter and eggs won't kill us after all: Flawed science triggers U-turn on cholesterol fears
By CHRIS BROOKE FOR THE DAILY MAIL
PUBLISHED: 22:40, 25 May 2015 | UPDATED: 01:16, 26 May 2015
For decades they have been blacklisted as foods to avoid, the cause of deadly thickening of the arteries, heart disease and strokes.
But the science which warned us off eating eggs – along with other high-cholesterol foods such as butter, shellfish, bacon and liver – could have been flawed, a key report in the US has found.
Foods high in cholesterol have been branded a danger to human health since the 1970s – a warning that has long divided the medical establishment.
A growing number of experts have been arguing there is no link between high cholesterol in food and dangerous levels of the fatty substance in the blood.
Now, in a move signalling a dramatic change of stance on the issue, the US government is to accept advice to drop cholesterol from its list of 'nutrients of concern'.
The US Department of Agriculture panel, which has been given the task of overhauling the guidelines every five years, has indicated it will bow to new research undermining the role dietary cholesterol plays in people's heart health.
Its Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee plans to no longer warn people to avoid eggs, shellfish and other cholesterol-laden foods.
The U-turn, based on a report by the committee, will undo almost 40 years of public health warnings about eating food laden with cholesterol. US cardiologist Dr Steven Nissen, of the Cleveland Clinic, said: 'It's the right decision. We got the dietary guidelines wrong. They've been wrong for decades.'
Doctors are now shifting away from warnings about cholesterol and saturated fat and focusing concern on sugar as the biggest dietary threat.
The Daily Mail's GP Martin Scurr predicts that advice will change here in the UK too.
He said last night: 'I think we're at a tipping point where cholesterol is concerned. There have been a lot of vested interests in people talking about cholesterol because it's easy to convey to the public that fatty foods like butter, cheese and red meat are furring up their arteries. In fact there are many other risk factors involved but somehow we've become obsessed with cholesterol.'
London-based cardiologist Dr Aseem Malhotra, science director of campaign group Action On Sugar, wrote in the British Medical Journal that it was time to 'bust the myth of the role of saturated fat in heart disease'.
He added that the food industry had effectively contributed to heart disease by lowering saturated fat levels in food and replacing it with sugar.
Matt Ridley, a Tory peer and science author, yesterday said there should be an inquiry 'into how the medical and scientific profession made such an epic blunder'.
He described the change of advice in the US as a 'mighty U-turn' and said studies linking high cholesterol and saturated fat in food to heart disease were 'tinged with scandal'.