Since the release of the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans last week, there has been quite the buzz in all forms of media regarding the new changes. A lot of this information can be confusing and overwhelming. Today we are going to go through some of the changes that have been made and what this means for you and your health.
First let’s begin with that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are. Every 5 years, new research is evaluated by the Health and Human Services department and the United States Department of Agriculture and an updated edition is released to the public. The purpose of the Dietary Guidelines is to provide information to professionals to help Americans make healthy choices to prevent chronic disease and maintain a healthy diet. This primary audience for the Dietary Guidelines is not the general public.
The following is part of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We will go through each part, pointing out some of the differences from past editions and discussing what this means for you.
A healthy eating pattern includes:
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy, and other
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds, and soy products
These general recommendations did not change from past editions.
A healthy eating pattern limits:
Saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars
This is the first time that the government has put a quantifiable limit on sugar. However, limiting our sugar intake (candies, cookies, cakes, sodas, etc.) is something that we as Americans have known for a while now. As a point of reference, 10% of calories from sugar on a 2,000 calorie diet would equate to 50g of sugar.
Sugar content of popular foods
- One can of soda = 35g of sugar
- ½ cup of ice cream = 20g of sugar
- ¾ cup of Cinnamon Toast Crunch = 9g sugar
- 1 Grande Vanilla Frappuccino = 57g sugar
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats
This recommendation has stayed the same as the past editions of the Dietary Guidelines.
- Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium
This recommendation has stayed the same as past editions.
- If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
This recommendation has also stayed the same as past editions.
Dietary cholesterol is no longer a nutrient of concern.
Past editions of the Dietary Guidelines has limited cholesterol consumption to 300mg per day (1 egg contains 200 mg). While the removal of this recommendation is exciting for egg lovers, this is not the green light to go overboard with cholesterol containing foods (eggs, shrimp, fast foods, butter, bacon, sausages, red meat, cheese and pastries). The new guidelines still recommend to “consume as little dietary cholesterol as possible”.
Drinking three to five cups of coffee at 8oz each can be part of a healthful diet.
This is the first time that the Dietary Guidelines has mentioned coffee. Even better, it is mentioned in a healthful way!