Guilt-free Cholesterol

Recently, ‘cholesterol’ has a hot topic in many health forums due to the upcoming ’2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ of the end the year. The suggestion of not limiting the cholesterol intake of Americans has overturned the world’s concept of ‘cholesterol’, and sparked off fascinating discussion.

For every 5 years, the dietary guidelines, involving all sort of diet models, will be updated by the US Dietary Advisory Committee, led by medical and nutrition experts. These guidelines provide practice. Back in 2010, the guide-line and so do the international consensus as well as Centre for food Safety, Hong Kong, suggested that the daily cholesterol intake should be no more than 300 mg, which is equivalent to one and a half eggs or a squid for the sake of heart health. More importantly, the general public and people with disordered blood cholesterol profile, after years and years of low cholesterol diet campaings, are used to skipping the tasty egg yolks.


So why is 300 mg? It is, in fact, derived from solid clinical evidence on the harmful impact of high blood cholesterol level on cardiovascular disease risks. But why is it mow liberalized?

Back to Basic – Cholesterol 101

Cholesterol as a type of sterol, a class of lipids. And is exclusive to animal products. It plays a very crucial role for our bodily functions in synthesis of Vitamin D, bile and many different types of hormones. Interestingly, fat content of a food cannot truly reflect the cholesterol content (Surprise, right?). Some low-fat food may be rich in cholesterol, such as egg and squid. Our typical dietary source of cholesterol includes: egg yolk, offals, molluscs, squids cuttle-fish, lard and animal fat.

Does eating eggs increase our blood cholesterol level?

80 percent of our blood cholesterol is made by ourselves, leaving that 20% from dietary source. Experts believe that cholesterol in diet should not be pleaded guilty, at least not entirely, to causing high blood cholesterol level. While mounting literature found linkage between high cholesterol level and the incidence of heart diseases, more recent evidence shows that there is no apparent association between cholesterol intake and the incidence of heart diseases. In other words, high blood cholesterol level has nothing to do with the egg yolks and offals. So the daily limit of 300mg per day has become obsolete among healthy adults. Mean-while, for those with disordered blood cholesterol or cardiovascular diseases, lower cholesterol intake is still considered to be effective in managing the conditions.

That means we can eat eggs unlimitedly?

For egg-holics, this can be good news whereas it does not mean the more, the better in heart health, despite the fact that eggs is not the major cause of high blood cholesterol level. Moderation is the key.

This US based controversial guideline has aroused vigorous discussion around the globe on that dietary source might be only one tiny part of the blame for high blood cholesterol. Yet the evidence of the effectiveness of dally 15g dietary fibre consumption for six weeks in reducing bad (LDL) cholesterol by 10.5% is concrete among people with high blood cholesterol. Based on the latest evidence,, people with background of heart diseases or disordered blood cholesterol profile are encouraged to cut down animal fat intake while boost dietary fiber intake. The controversy of the guideline will continuously lead us to a new era of cardiovascular disease management. No matter how the guideline is, enjoying a well-balanced diet with great variety of food can still keep your doctors away.


  1. 2015 Dietary Guidelines
  2. “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee”
  3. Time February 11, 2015 “Cholesterol Is Not a ‘Nutrient of Concern,’ Report Says”
  4. Centre for Food Safely
  5. Zunft, H. J. F., Luder, W.,Harde. A., Hober, B., Graubaum. H. J., Koebnick, C., & Grunwald. J. (2003). Carob pulp preparation rich in insoluble fibre lowers total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic patients. European journal of nutrition, 42(5), 235-242.

330 Tips provided by:  Ms Grace Lam  (Senior Dietitian - Centre for Nutritional Studies, School of Public Health and Primary Care, Faculty of Medicine, CUHK)

Date: 2015-08-01