Cholesterol-laden foods might not be so bad after all

A federal panel is ready to reverse decades-old advice about avoiding cholesterol in your diet.

"For 30 years we've been told to avoid dietary cholesterol and to eat less than 300 milligrams a day because dietary cholesterol, we thought, might influence our blood cholesterol levels," said CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Now what this new panel is saying is that that's probably not the case and that cholesterol doesn't really have to be considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption," said Narula. "This fits in line with the shift that we've been seeing in the science over the past several years."

The advisory committee's new dietary guidelines align with what the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association have previously asserted.

So what foods should people be avoiding? Narula said foods that are still a cause for concern are those high in saturated fat, such as bacon and other meats and cheese and other dairy products, as well as foods high in trans fat.

By contrast, Narula said people don't have to be so vigilant about cutting foods out of their diet that are high in cholesterol, such as eggs, liver and shellfish.

Narula said only about 20 percent of the body's cholesterol is determined by diet. Genetics plays a big role in a person's cholesterol level.

"A lot of the cholesterol that we have in our blood comes from what we produce ourselves by the liver and how efficiently we process it or eliminate it," Narula said.

The Agriculture and Health and Human Services departments are set to release a final report on the new recommendations later this year.