US Issues New Dietary Guidelines

Jan 12, 2016 By Anita R
Anita R's picture

“Eat less sugar.” This is what experts have recommended for our health for a while.

That is exactly what the US dietary guidelines reiterate in their latest report which was released just in time for folks to make their healthy eating resolutions in the New Year!

Previously dietary guidelines had recommended that individuals eat specific foods or groups at every meal. But have you noticed that it is almost impossible to strictly follow the rules of portions and items at every meal?

To reflect individual habits and make it easy to follow along, in its latest report, the new guidelines recommend eating patterns and complete diets, rather than individual items. If taken together, they are expected to have a cumulative effect on the health of individuals.

Time To Rethink Our Meals…

It is a known fact that American waistlines are increasing. With obesity becoming a major cause for concern, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been reviewing the eating habits of people every five years since 1990.

As nutrition and medical sciences evolve, so are the observations about what is healthy and also how our bodies work. The dietary guidelines the USDA recommends are a product of research, debate and analysis and form the cornerstone of the Federal nutrition policy.

Remember MyPlate? In 2011, the Department of Agriculture replaced the famous “Food Pyramid” with a new diagram in the shape of a plate that represented portions for fruits, vegetables, protein, and grains. They recommended the ideal mix at every meal. It was felt that rather than a pyramid, a plate shape is something that people are familiar with since we eat on a plate. “MyPlate” recommended that we cut back grains and instead replace it with more vegetables and fruits.

So what are the recommendations this time?

What’s In, What’s Out?

So, here are the significant new recommendations:

  • Limit added sugars to less than 10% of calories per day
  • Reduce meats and eat a variety of protein foods
  • Limit saturated fats to less than 10% of calories per day and replace with unsaturated fats where possible
  • Cholesterol daily limit has been removed
  • Limit sodium to less than 2300 milligrams per day
  • Caffeine is acceptable for those who eat healthily
  • Eat your veggies and fruits.

Not all of these recommendations are new. They are in fact common sense. Unfortunately, politics plays a part in determining which recommendations finally make it into the official guidelines. A rule that promotes good health, but hurts an industry's profit is unlikely to be included because of lobbying by companies. 

For us, as individuals, it is important is to use our critical thinking and make the right choices that are best for each of us.