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Rethinking dietary cholesterol

Fernandez, Maria L.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: March 2012 - Volume 15 - Issue 2 - p 117–121
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32834d2259
LIPID METABOLISM AND THERAPY: Edited by Philip C. Calder and Richard J. Deckelbaum

Purpose of review The perceived notion that dietary cholesterol is associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) has led to dietary recommendations of no more than 300 mg/day for healthy populations in the USA. This study will review the recent evidence that challenges the current dietary restrictions regarding cholesterol while it presents some beneficial effects of eggs (an icon for dietary cholesterol) in healthy individuals.

Recent findings The European countries, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Korea and India among others do not have an upper limit for cholesterol intake in their dietary guidelines. Further, existing epidemiological data have clearly demonstrated that dietary cholesterol is not correlated with increased risk for CHD. Although numerous clinical studies have shown that dietary cholesterol challenges may increase plasma LDL cholesterol in certain individuals, who are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol (about one-quarter of the population), HDL cholesterol also rises resulting in the maintenance of the LDL/HDL cholesterol ratio, a key marker of CHD risk.

Summary The lines of evidence coming from current epidemiological studies and from clinical interventions utilizing different types of cholesterol challenges support the notion that the recommendations limiting dietary cholesterol should be reconsidered.

Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence to Maria L. Fernandez, PhD, Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Connecticut, 3624 Horsebarn Road Extension, Storrs, CT 06269, USA Tel: +1 860 486 5547; fax: +1 860 486 3674; e-mail:

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.