The New USDA Dietary Guidelines

The seventh edition of the US Department of Agriculture guidelines for healthy eating were released online today and include 23 key recommendations for all Americans, as well as 6 additional recommendations for specific population groups.  “Taken together, the Dietary Guidelines recommendations encompass two overarching concepts,” Dr. Van Horn and colleagues write in the executive summary. These are to “maintain calorie balance over time to achieve and sustain a healthy weight,” and to “focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods and beverages.”

Among the recommendations:

  • Limit intake of sodium, solid fats, added sugars, and refined grains.
  • Emphasize nutrient-dense foods and beverages, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
  • Increase physical activity.
  • Watch caloric intake.
  • Drink water instead of sugary sodas or other sweetened drinks.
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less; avoid oversized portions.
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals – and choose the foods with lower numbers.

This is the first time Federal nutrition guidelines have focused more on recommending what Americans should eat as opposed to what we shouldn’t eat.  Although the guidelines may reinforce conventional wisdom, much of the advice could have been more specific in terminology.  Instead of the vague “eat less solid fats”; a clearer recommendation might have been “eat less fatty cuts of meat”.

Regardless, I hope it’s a step in the right direction…

For a look at the full 60 page document, click here.



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