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25 Reasons the 2010 Dietary Guidelines are wrong about cholesterol, saturated fat, and carbohydrates

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1. In 1937, Columbia University biochemists David Rittenberg & Rudolph Schoenheimer demonstrated that dietary cholesterol had little or no influence on blood cholesterol. This scientific fact has never been refuted. Why, then, do the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines limit dietary cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day – or 200 mg if you are diabetic?

2. Dietary cholesterol is poorly absorbed, 50 percent at best (Mary Enig, PhD; Michael I. Gurr, PhD, lipid biochemists). According to these lipid biochemists, the more cholesterol you eat, the less cholesterol you absorb. Since our bodies must synthesize between 1200 and 1800 mg of cholesterol daily, why is there any dietary limit?

3. “Cholesterol in food has no affect on cholesterol in blood and we’ve known that all along.”  These are the words of Professor Ancel Keys, American Heart Association board member and father of the low fat diet, who, in retirement, recanted the idea that dietary cholesterol raises blood levels. His recant has been greeted with silence.

4. All federal Dietary Guidelines since 1980 discuss cholesterol as something to fear. Since cholesterol is found in every cell in our bodies and is a precursor to all adrenal and sex hormones, why wouldn’t the 2010 Dietary Guidelines discuss the essential nature of cholesterol instead?

5. Cholesterol is a single molecule. There is no such thing as “good cholesterol” or “bad cholesterol.” These descriptions were cooked up to sell statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. Referred to as “bad,” LDL is not bad and LDL is not cholesterol. LDL is a lipoprotein that delivers cholesterol to the 70 trillion cells in our bodies. (Only oxidized cholesterol is bad and elevated blood sugar and elevated triglycerides oxidize LDL.)  

7. Cholesterol, fat, and fat soluble nutrients are delivered to our cells in lipoproteins, such as LDL. Also, there are lipoprotein subfactions (such as LDL, subclass A and subclass B). Understanding lipoprotein subfractions is much more important in preventing and reversing heart disease than measuring your total cholesterol (TC). Ask your doctor to provide LDL subfractions and stop scaring you about your total cholesterol number.     

8. The statement “saturated fat raises blood cholesterol” is a false and misleading overgeneralization. There are many different types of saturated fat and many reasons why blood cholesterol rises and falls. Saturated fat intake and blood cholesterol levels are not in a teeter-totter relationship.  

9. Fat in food is always a combination of saturated and unsaturated fat. As an example, butter contains 12 different fatty acids, including 8 different saturated fats (and 8 different chain lengths). Saturated stearic acid, as an example, does not elevate blood cholesterol and, in fact, promotes higher levels of HDL, a lipoprotein associated with protection from heart disease. (Michael I. Gurr, lipid biochemist; Dr. Eric Rimm, Harvard University, member, 2010 DGAC).

10. Cholesterol is found in every cell in the body and is a precursor to vitamin D (actually a hormone) and to our stress hormones. Stress has the potential to temporarily elevate blood cholesterol. When the stress is over, cholesterol will leave the blood and go back to the liver and tissues. Frequent fluctuations of blood cholesterol due to fear, stress, weather, activity, and age represent normal body functioning.   

11. Recommending that Americans eat a variety of healthy fats is more helpful nutritionally than labeling fats “good or bad” depending on their degree of saturation. Besides, “saturated” means stable; nothing else. Saturated fat is a stable fat and represents approximately 50 percent of the fat found in our cell membranes.

12. During the first meeting of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Dr. Eric Rimm from Harvard testified that he is concerned about “the artificial limit on fat” in the Dietary Guidelines. He mentioned that “there is some concern” about excess carbohydrates elevating triglycerides because the ratio of TG to HDL is emerging as one of the most reliable risk factors for heart disease.

13. Anything that promotes HDL (such as natural dietary fat) puts downward pressure on triglycerides – blood fats made in the liver from excess carbohydrates. Elevated triglycerides are associated with increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats like stearic acid are heart-healthy in that they lower the ratio of TG to HDL.

14. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines should say:  Eating beef – especially from the pasture – and enjoying some dark chocolate – from the rain forest – provides saturated stearic acid and monounsaturated oleic acid – fats that protect you from heart disease.  

15. The primary dietary cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease is the excess carbohydrates in our diet, especially sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and the easily-digested carbohydrates found in grain and grain products.  

16. Most dry boxed commercial breakfast cereals raise blood sugar rapidly; they are high glycemic. There is no warning about blood-sugar-raising foods in the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Since blood sugar has a very narrow healthy range (and cholesterol in blood has a wide normal range), why is blood sugar not mentioned in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines?

17. Only carbohydrates raise blood sugar and insulin levels. Why, then is the role of excess carbs in promoting obesity and diabetes not being addressed in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines?  

18. By weight, all children’s breakfast cereals are 30 to 50 percent sugar. If the DGAC is concerned about reducing the incidence of chronic disease in America, isn’t there a scientific justification for warning parents and Americans about blood-sugar-raising foods, especially those that are being marketed to children?

19. The particularly harmful carbohydrates – sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) – are not singled out in the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines. Dr. Joanne Slavin defended the use of HFCS by saying “a calorie is a calorie is a calorie.” She chairs the Carbohydrate Committee and her testimony (Meeting 1) suggests she is not concerned about excess sugar and high fructose corn syrup in the American diet. She works for the University of Minnesota, and the U of M receives substantial financial support from Cargill (and General Mills). Was her recommendation not to single out high fructose corn syrup a serious conflict of interest?  

20. Metabolic Syndrome - hyperinsulinism, weight gain, elevated blood pressure – is associated with high carbohydrate diets. It is estimated that 25 percent or more of us are sensitive to carbohydrates, even to the highly touted whole grains. Why isn’t Metabolic Syndrome specifically discussed in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines? (Dr. Gereald Reaven, Stanford University Medical School, author of Syndrome X)

21. A high carbohydrate diet is associated with elevated triglycerides (TG), which, in turn, is associated with depressed levels of HDL. Depressed HDL is a potent risk factor for diabetes and coronary heart disease. A Harvard study verified that people with the highest TG and the lowest HDL (top quartile) were 16 times more likely to die of heart disease than people with the lowest TG and highest HDL (lowest quartile).   

22. Blood-sugar-raising carbohydrates have a direct and immediate effect on blood sugar and insulin levels and, in the words of science writer Gary Taubes, “on the disruption of the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body.”

23. The simple explanation for why Americans have fattened:  hyperinsulinism. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. When insulin levels are elevated – either chronically or after a meal – we make and store fat and then lock it up in adipose tissue. When fat is locked up, it is not available as a fuel to the trillions of cells in the body. Hunger is the result. By stimulating insulin levels, carbohydrates make us hungry and fat. High circulating insulin – in response to excess dietary carbohydrates – is the root cause of weight gain and obesity and all chronic disease associated with elevated blood sugar and insulin levels.     

24. Excess carbohydrates – especially sugar, HFCS, and rapidly-digested grain products, lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease – which leads to slow, suffocating heart failure and premature death.  

25. Heart failure is the #1 Medicare expenditure. The incidence of heart failure has doubled since 1990. According to the CDC in Atlanta, 1 in 3 children born today will become diabetics. According to the American Heart Association, eighty percent (80%) of diabetics die of heart disease. We have both an expanding population and a steadily increasing incidence of chronic disease. Americans need relief. It’s time to end the confusion about fat and cholesterol. How bad do things have to get before we revise the U.S. Dietary Guidelines in favor of a higher fat whole foods carbohydrate-restricted diet?

For more information and videos about the failed 2010 Dietary Guidelines, please go to

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    Total 13 comments
    • Anonymous

      The proposed low fat 2010 Dietary Guidelines will only fuel the obesity and diabetes epidemics. The Cereal Killer is right – how bad to things have to get before we change the low fat carbohydrate-emphasized guidelines that only benefit the big food companies, drug companies, doctors, and hospitals.

    • MsPseudolus

      This is a fascinating article. I was wondering if you could expand on this statement: “When fat is locked up, it is not available as a fuel to the trillions of cells in the body.” I’ve never hear of fat being “locked up in adipose tissue” before. How does it get locked, exactly? How does it get “unlocked” when we lose weight?

    • Reformed dietitian

      When there is too much sugar running around in your blood it turns off fat-burning – having to do with leptin, the signal from the fat in your body to the brain that you’ve had enough to eat and it’s time to burn fat. The person who is obese may develop ‘lectin resistance’ which prevents your brain from hearing the leptin signal, so fat-burning doesn’t get turned on and you are hungry instead. That complicates weight loss, and is the reason why many folks succeed at losing weight if they cut way down on carbs and eat good fats instead. Eating low calorie just seems to lead your body to conserve energy, preventing weight loss.

    • Anonymous

      MsPseudolus, the simple answer is this: insulin is the fat storage hormone, and so long as insulin levels are elevated your body cannot reverse that pathway and allow fat out of the cells to be burned for fuel. The signal to your body to release fat is dropping levels of insulin. So if you keep your insulin chronically elevated, your body stores fat but doesn’t release it to be burned for fuel.

      Think about it: If fat is stored fuel, stored energy — and it is — why aren’t morbidly obese people the most energetic folks on the planet? It’s because they have a fuel-storage-and-retrieval problem.

    • Anonymous

      Why do the largely vegetarian whole grain eating 7th
      Day Adventists live so much longer that meat eaters?

    • spacewoman

      “Why do the largely vegetarian whole grain eating 7th
      Day Adventists live so much longer that meat eaters?”

      Where’s your documentation of this. And are you talking about people who eat a whole foods diet that includes mainly meat, healthy fats (i.e. fats in the right proportion), and vegetables, OR are you talking about meat eaters who also eat a TON of carbohydrates and unhealthy omega-6 fats that are in most processed foods.

      Assuming your premise is correct, my guess is that 7th Day Adventists eat whole foods that are not processed and don’t spike insulin and that is what leads to their longevity.

      This really isn’t about vegetarian vs. meat-eating, though. It’s about educating people about the dangers of excess carbohydrate consumption and the truth that fat and cholesterol are good for you and should not be demonized.

    • cereal killer

      1. Why do the Beef-eating Mormons of Utah live just as long or longer than 7th Day Adventists? Why do the butter- and lard-eating French have much lower rates of heart disease than Americans? (Why did my butter-loving, butter-making Finnish grandfather live to be almost 88 – dying in the winter after a short bout of pneumonia?)
      2. Smart Mormons and 7th Day Adventists probably don’t feed their children Fruit Loops, Pop Tarts, and Little Debbie’s cup cakes. (Neither did my grandfather.) Meat eating isn’t the only variable; there are other lifestyle and dietary factors to consider if we want to learn the truth.
      3. In the MONICA Heart Study, conducted by the European Heart Foundation, the Swiss, who enjoy a high life expectancy – the highest in Europe – had the highest average cholesterol level: 265 mg/dl. In that same study, the Russians, who had the lowest life expectancy of the 20 European countries in the study, had the lowest average cholesterol level. This is examined in Dr. Malcolm Kendrick’s excellent book, The Cholesterol Con.
      4. These epidemiological comparisons may be interesting but prove very little; they reveal association – not cause and effect.
      5. In the U.S., obesity and diabetes are associated with record levels of sugar, corn syrup, and flour consumption – all perfectly okay according to the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines.

    • Hi, This is a great discussion and example of the fact that the truth about what we put into our bodies and how it affects us is not always what the government wants us to know. I will be sharing this article on my thoughts on friday link love at to share it with more folks who believe that wholesome, traditional foods are what’s good for ya!

    • Anonymous

      So they recommend us to kill and eat someone? I’ll stick with the dark chocolate. There is no moral justification to murder.

    • Anonymous

      An interesting statement in cereal killer’s last response made me chuckle:

      Smart Mormons and 7th Day Adventists probably don’t feed their children Fruit Loops, Pop Tarts, and Little Debbie’s cup cakes.

      Little Debbie was founded and is owned by a 7th Day Adventist. And yes, they support that company by buying the goods and eating them! The same as Kellogg, which I’m sure you will appreciate the irony in that.

      It’s a small world. There are so many opportunities to arm ourselves with scientific truths. Some books that are definitely worth reading are:

      Eat Fat, Lose Fat – Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon
      Nourishing Traditions – Sally Fallon
      Nutrition and Physical Degeneration – Weston Price
      The Truth About Milk

      So much material in the space that supports this article. Thanks for the original post. It is helping me to think anew about these issues.


    • Anonymous

      What’s #6?

    • Reformed dietitian

      There was a numbering error – there is not #6, there are actually only 24 reasons!

    • Anonymous

      This is an eye opening article and one that I’ll share with family and friends. But I did have a question:

      I’m in the process of eliminating processed sugars and grains from my diet, but does the grain Quinoa effect blood sugar and insulin levels and contribute to heart disease and diabetes like your typical carbohydrate?


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