The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its new dietary guidelines today for all Americans. The guidelines are re-written every five years, and this year’s guidelines are based on solid research, according to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
‘We want to make things easier and simpler for consumers,’ she said. ‘One of the things we are steering people to is small changes.’
New USDA dietary guidelines for 2016 and beyond
The US Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA considered advice from nutrition and public health experts, food industry experts, farmers and politicians — in addition to 29,000 comments submitted by the public — to complete the report.
‘Today, about half of all American adults — 117 million people — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, many of which are related to poor quality eating patterns and physical inactivity,’ said Burwell and Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack in the report’s introduction.
‘Rates of these chronic, diet-related diseases continue to rise, and they come not only with increased health risks, but also at high cost,’ they said.
Some of the highlights of the new guidelines include:
- Limit sugar to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake
- Limit salt intake to 2,300 mg or less a day
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole wheat
- Consume as little cholesterol as possible
It might be difficult to keep up with the dietary requirements and understand what you are eating, but luckily, new food labels are also coming out this year.
‘For the past decade, consumers have been advised to reduce their intake of added sugars, and the proposed percent daily value for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is intended to help consumers follow that advice,’ said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The report makes clear the fact that Americans will need to change their diets to meet the guidelines and move toward a healthier lifestyle.
Americans are too salty
Most people, (especially men), get enough protein these days. But according to research, what people are in dire need of in their diets is more vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
In addition, Americans need to significantly reduce their sodium intake. Though the recommended amount of sodium intake is 2,300 mg every day, most Americans get 3,4000 mg a day. Over 90% of children and 89% of adults consume too much sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure.
‘More than three quarters of sodium in the American diet is estimated to come from processed and restaurant food, which gives consumers little choice when it comes to lowering daily intake,’ said the CDC. ‘A key strategy for lowering population-wide sodium intake is gradually reducing sodium in the food supply.’
The new guidelines also had something to say about caffeine and alcohol: both seem to be safe in small amounts. But, the report also indicated that no one should start drinking caffeine or alcohol if they do not already do so now.
The list of approved foods
According to the new guidelines, a healthy and balanced diet includes the following:
- A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruit
- Grains, and at least half should be whole grain
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein sources, such as seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes such as beans and peas, soy products, and nuts and seeds
- Oils from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oils, as well as nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados