Nutrition Guidelines

According to a just published Washington Post article, it appears that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which is the primary panel tasked with providing nutrition advisories on behalf of the United States government, is on the cusp of reversing a long standing policy regarding cholesterol. (This policy was introduced in response to a paper published in 1961 in conjunction with the American Heart Association).

In layman’s (egg joke?) terms, the policies break down as follows:

??? - 1960: No published position that I could locate (20 seconds of Google-Fu).

1961 - 2015: EGGS ARE BAD! BAD BAD BAD!

2015 - ????: Well maybe you can have some eggs. I guess.

So, what does this mean? In the world in which we currently live, I suspect that too many of my fellow Americans will interpret this as a license to eat as many eggs as they possibly can. If questioned, they might point to that article (or similar) and proclaim the new position that eggs don’t contribute to the overall cholesterol measurement a test might indicate.

But that’s the whole problem right there. There is something to be said for moderation, my friends. According to an extremely helpful Google search for “egg calories”, there are 78 calories in an egg. Alone, that’s just fine, especially in a single day. Eat three or four, and now it’s going to add up. Add some yummy bacon or toast? It easily becomes a big deal.

Now, in a perfect world, this announcement probably shouldn’t mean a damn thing. Any person who makes an attempt to reasonably monitor what they eat is already ahead of the game. They might adjust their breakfast menu a little bit to include an extra few eggs over the course of a week, but that’s about it.

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, one of my favorite breakfast meals has come to consist of a single whole egg plus two eggs whites, scrambled to egg happiness. Then, I roll it up in a tortilla wrap, add a healthy measure of spinach, onions, peppers, plus a generous amount of hot sauce, and you have a tasty and nutritious breakfast that ends up being approximately 250 calories. But I digress.

See, the bigger issue in my mind is that this is just one more bit of confirmation that proves that the “powers-that-be” aren’t necessarily acting in anybody’s best interest. That’s not to suggest that there is an evil plot afoot or anything along those lines. But, sometimes external pressures can inadvertently or unexpectedly corrupt something that was originally begun with good intent.

Allow me to produce a single example. The decidedly Catholic practice of eating only fish on Fridays is commonly attributed to the Vatican’s political engine striking a bargain with various captains of the fishing industry to prop up demand for fish some 500 years ago. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that it is directly related to secret ownership of a fishing empire controlled by the Pontifex Maximus himself. What a great scandal. Something even something that the folks who lived during medieval times could really sink their teeth into.

Is it true? Nope. It’s even better, according to this article I found that was published a few years ago. Honestly, after reviewing that and adding it to everything else I’ve come across about Henry VIII, I’m inclined to think that a number of the things we take for granted were either directly or indirectly a result of his infatuations with females and his propensity to marry and then discard them. Oh and believe you me, I truly savor the ability to cross-reference this particular bit of knowledge with Lent right around the corner (*). I’m not suggesting anybody’s beliefs are incorrect, nor do I suggest you stop ordering the Filet-o-Fish over the next couple of Fridays. You should have every right to believe and act however you feel appropriate.

For over forty years, folks joked that eating too many eggs would result with that person having a heart attack. That, of course, was based mostly upon the conclusions delivered to us by the esteemed committee mentioned above, or its predecessors. If, as we’ve been led to believe, cholesterol is the cause of most heart attacks, this quote from the Washington Post article is also eye opening:

Only 20% of a person’s blood cholesterol—the levels measured with standard cholesterol tests—comes from diet. The rest comes from genes.

That statement alone calls into question even more the cholesterol tests that are being utilized today.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough? February is Heart Month! To be fair, there isn’t a single item on that page about cholesterol; rather, it’s all about controlling sodium intake, which at least makes sense considering everything processed contains a ton of sodium.

(*) With all possible due respect to Monsignor Sawyer of Assumption Grotto, rest his soul.