18 January 2005

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Yes, processed-food manufacturers were issued a reprieve on trans fats from the Agriculture Department's dietary guidelines. But it bears mentioning that the meat and dairy industries also have a history of being shielded from scrutiny.

There is no dietary requirement for cholesterol whatsoever, and too much of it in our blood becomes a risk factor for deadly disease. Yet the guidelines give the allowance of 300 milligrams of dietary cholesterol per day, simply so people may eat foods of animal origin, the only foods that actually contain cholesterol. (Plants are free of cholesterol, and in fact supply phytosterols, which are good for human health.)

Interestingly, 300 milligrams don't go very far. A person handily uses up his or her entire U.S.D.A.-designated daily quota for cholesterol after consuming two small eggs. How many would believe that the government actually advises people to completely curtail meat and dairy intake after that limit has been reached?

Pamela Rice
New York, Jan. 13, 2005
The writer is the author of a book about vegetarianism.

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