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J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Dec;23(6 Suppl):616S-620S.

The Canadian experience: why Canada decided against an upper limit for cholesterol.

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Department of Human Nutritional Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 2N2.


Canada, like the United States, held a "consensus conference on cholesterol" in 1988. Although the final report of the consensus panel recommended that total dietary fat not exceed 30 percent and saturated fat not exceed 10 percent of total energy intake, it did not specify an upper limit for dietary cholesterol. Similarly, the 1990, Health Canada publication "Nutrition Recommendations: The Report of the Scientific Review Committee" specified upper limits for total and saturated fat in the diet but did not specify an upper limit for cholesterol. Canada's Guidelines for Healthy Eating, a companion publication from Health Canada, suggested that Canadians "choose low-fat dairy products, lean meats, and foods prepared with little or no fat" while enjoying "a variety of foods." Many factors contributed to this position but a primary element was the belief that total dietary fat and saturated fat were primary dietary determinants of serum total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, not dietary cholesterol. Hence, Canadian health authorities focused on reducing saturated fat and trans fats in the Canadian diet to help lower blood cholesterol levels rather than focusing on limiting dietary cholesterol. In an effort to allay consumer concern with the premise that blood cholesterol level is linked to dietary cholesterol, organizations such as the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency (CEMA) reminded health professionals, including registered dietitians, family physicians and nutrition educators, of the extensive data showing that there is little relationship between dietary cholesterol intake and cardiovascular mortality. In addition, it was pointed out that for most healthy individuals, endogenous synthesis of cholesterol by the liver adjusts to the level of dietary cholesterol intake. Educating health professionals about the relatively weak association between dietary cholesterol and the relatively strong association between serum cholesterol and saturated fat and trans fats helped keep consumers informed about healthy diets and ways to control blood cholesterol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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