The US Dietary Guidelines for 2020-2025 have finally been published – and reception has been mixed.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs) are updated and published every five years in a joint effort in what government services describe as an effort ‘between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’.
This year, the guidelines encouraged people to ensure their cholesterol consumption is as low as possible.
The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) made its position on cholesterol clear as far as mid-2020, suggesting that the guidelines should recommend that “individuals should eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible.”
That position was praised by plant-based health advocacy organization the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
PCRM said: “The DGAC made the recommendation during a June 17 webcast previewing the draft of its scientific report, which is expected to be finalized by the end of June. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services will use the DGAC’s report to develop the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.”
“Dietary cholesterol still causes cardiovascular disease. That hasn’t changed in the last five years,” added Susan Levin, MS, RD, CSSD, director of nutrition education for PCRM.
But the guidelines have been criticized by some; among them highly-respected YouTuber Mic the Vegan who accused them of contradicting themselves.
He also noted his belief that food industries – both animal and plant-based – had influenced the guidelines to some extent.
Mic went through the guide in detail, pointing out that it is a massive 164-page document.
One of the positives Mic pointed out the inclusion of soy milk being cited as nutritionally equivalent to cow’s milk for the first time ever. He referenced Plant Based News‘ own article on the topic in making this point.
However, he noted that in the Guidelines ‘plate’ the reference to dairy says: “Move to low fat or fat free dairy milk or yogurt (or lactose-free dairy or fortified soy versions).
“So they are saying move away from anything fatty dairy and they include fortified soy, so they’re not telling you to eat a vegan food but they are telling you you can eat that vegan food instead,” he said.
However, it was the Guide’s suggestions around cholesterol that Mic took issue with.
“There’s something very, very important that they recommend limiting and it didn’t make it onto the simple-to-view bold list of things to avoid, and that is cholesterol. They say ‘The National Academies recommends that trans fat and dietary cholesterol consumption to be as low as possible without compromising the nutritional adequacy of the diet’.”
Of this comment, Mic said: “While I do not think it was their intention at all, the logical conclusion of this statement is to eat a vegan diet, to be avoiding all these animal products that contain cholesterol. If they built the guidelines around this statement, but it would basically be a ‘How to eat a balanced vegan book’, but obviously they didn’t.”
He added that the phrase ‘as low as possible’ is ‘pretty strong’ – and ‘usually concerned for things like lead consumption.”
‘Riddled with inconsistencies’
However, overall, Mic said he was frustrated with inconsistencies within the document.
He said: “In no way does their weekly outline acknowledge that they are telling you to eat as little cholesterol as possible, as well as the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease.
“And this is just the beginning of how this document is riddled with inconsistencies which get a little frustrating for me.”
As an example, he cited the guide recommending people eat ‘nutrient-dense foods like eggs’, which are known to be a source of cholesterol.
You can watch Mic the Vegan’s full video on YouTube here