200px-Willie_KeelerWee Willie Keeler of the Baltimore Orioles had it right…..when he said to ‘Hit’em where they ain’t’; and now the official advice from the US Department of Health is that cholesterol in the diet is not a problem.

Don’t get confused….cholesterol is still a concern, it’s just that most cholesterol (80+%) is made by your body, not ingested in foods. This means that egg yolks, and shellfish, which have gotten a bad rap for a lot of years due to the high amount of cholesterol they contain, are off the ‘NO EAT’ zone and can be consumed without concern.  The amount that external cholesterol ingestion contributes to your cholesterol levels is modest, and thus there is no reason to avoid these foods.

But don’t mistake this recommendation with the thought that cholesterol is not considered a contributor to heart disease….it is.  It’s just that the amount you get from exogenous sources is modest and need not be modified.

This is similar to salt in the diet.  I have patients tell me all the time….”I never use the salt shaker….so don’t worry about my salt intake.”     But the salt shaker only accounts for about 12% of your salt intake in the day.  Salt is hidden in all packaged and cooked foods and that is where we find the vast majority of our salt.  So…..our foods are ‘hitting them where they ain’t’…and we need to be smart and understand how these food factors come to play a role in our long-term health.