Dr. Dean Ornish, well-known for his very low fat, nearly vegetarian diet, this morning warned against taking the lack of restrictions of dietary cholesterol (and the implication that animal proteins and fats aren t restricted either) too literally. Earlier this year the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee announced that they would no longer advise that dietary cholesterol be restricted because of studies indicating that for most people, dietary cholesterol did not determine blood levels of so-called bad cholesterol. As Dr. Ornish noted in his essay, this gave rise to a host of headlines suggesting that eggs and bacon are the new health foods.
His main objection is the free ride such recommendations seem to give to unfettered consumption of animal proteins. This is to be expected, since Dr. Ornish s own diet plan is close to vegan and extremely low fat. And he has had positive results with his diet what looks like actual reversal of some types of heart ailments. However, his citations of the scientific literature that support his warnings about animal protein seem to mostly come from observational studies studies that find links or associations, but which can t find cause and effect.
ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava commented While we agree with Dr. Ornish s advice to not go overboard with animal protein and fat, we can t wholeheartedly agree that diets beneficial for people with heart problems are necessarily the best for everyone. We prefer the mantra, Everything in Moderation. And we take issue with his digression into meatless eating is best for the environment , which smacks of conflating climate issues with health and nutrition: whatever the validity of that approach, it should be dealt with on its own.