Dietary Cholesterol and Cardiovascular Risk: A Science Advisory From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2020 Jan 21;141(3):e39-e53. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000000743. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


The elimination of specific dietary cholesterol target recommendations in recent guidelines has raised questions about its role with respect to cardiovascular disease. This advisory was developed after a review of human studies on the relationship of dietary cholesterol with blood lipids, lipoproteins, and cardiovascular disease risk to address questions about the relevance of dietary cholesterol guidance for heart health. Evidence from observational studies conducted in several countries generally does not indicate a significant association with cardiovascular disease risk. Although meta-analyses of intervention studies differ in their findings, most associate intakes of cholesterol that exceed current average levels with elevated total or low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations. Dietary guidance should focus on healthy dietary patterns (eg, Mediterranean-style and DASH [Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension]-style diets) that are inherently relatively low in cholesterol with typical levels similar to the current US intake. These patterns emphasize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, lean protein sources, nuts, seeds, and liquid vegetable oils. A recommendation that gives a specific dietary cholesterol target within the context of food-based advice is challenging for clinicians and consumers to implement; hence, guidance focused on dietary patterns is more likely to improve diet quality and to promote cardiovascular health.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; cholesterol; diet; eggs; risk factors.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / prevention & control
  • Cholesterol, Dietary* / administration & dosage
  • Cholesterol, Dietary* / adverse effects
  • Diet, Western*
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances*


  • Cholesterol, Dietary