Earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services released new dietary guidelines for Americans. These recommendations have been issued every five years since 1980 based on the latest scientific consensus on nutrition and health to the public, policy makers and the healthcare community.
The long-awaited 2015-2020 dietary guidelines have already received their fair share of criticism and controversy.
I think it’s important to consider that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee weighed the body of scientific and medical literature, as an ever-changing body of information, when putting together their report. While much of the advice from previous guidelines remains in the news, there are a few important changes that stand out.
Instead of highlighting only specific nutrients or foods, the new guidelines discuss the importance of healthy eating and its role in preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity and heart disease.
In addition to the American-style healthy eating model, which is based on healthy forms of typical American foods in the right portions, the guidelines specify two other healthy eating models – the Mediterranean-style eating models and vegetarian – which can also adapt to different cultures. , food preferences and budgets.
These healthy eating habits consist of a variety of nutrient-dense foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free and low-fat dairy products, a variety of protein foods, and vegetable oils.
The role of eating more seafood and plant proteins like beans and soybeans is emphasized more than ever. In fact, Americans of all ages do not adhere to recommendations for eating seafood, which means they substitute meat, poultry, or eggs with seafood such as tuna or salmon. at least twice a week.
The new guidelines no longer include cholesterol as a “nutrient of concern,” but recommend keeping certain components – sodium, added sugar and saturated fat – within their limits. Consuming more seafood and plant-based meals can help reduce the amount of saturated fat consumed while increasing the intake of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and other key nutrients.
The guidelines offer a benefit to coffee lovers who can now rest assured that their daily cup is not only safe, but can also protect against diabetes, heart disease and possibly even Parkinson’s disease. A growing body of evidence shows that the caffeine equivalent of up to three to five cups of coffee is reasonable intake for safety and potential health benefits.
Interestingly, the guidelines encourage small changes in food choices to help with healthy eating. Trying to completely change your eating habits can be overwhelming; we can slowly improve ourselves by viewing each food choice as an opportunity to nourish our bodies in a healthier way.
Since the big picture matters, making healthy choices one at a time contributes to better overall nutrition, and often one good choice leads to another.
The guidelines allow us to take a lifestyle approach over a diet perspective when it comes to our nutritional and activity balance.
Guidelines can help us educate ourselves on how to eat and feed our families for better health. Making the right food choices, one meal at a time, day after day, will help you adopt a healthier diet.
While we can all strive to cook well and eat well at home; schools, communities, workplaces, and the food industry will continue to play an important role in improving the health and nutrition of Americans.
LeeAnn Weintraub, Registered Dietitian, provides nutritional advice and guidance to individuals, families and businesses, including the National Fisheries Institute. She can be reached at [email protected]