You’ve likely seen talk in the news lately of the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But, what exactly are these guidelines and what do you they mean for you and your family? Libby’s is here to help break it down.
The Dietary Guidelines are issued by the U.S. government every five years. They provide advice for healthy Americans ages 2 years and over about food choices that promote health and prevent disease. The 2015 – 2020 guidelines were released on Thursday, January 7, 2016 in a 100+ (!) page report, and we’ve distilled the information into 10 key highlights. While some of the information is new, some longstanding recommendations remain, including the fact that we should all be eating more fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Read on, and then check out the Libby’s Digital Recipe Box for guideline-friendly mealtime inspiration.
- Sugar: For the first time, Americans are advised to limit sugar to no more than 10 percent of daily calories (e.g. 12 teaspoons for a 2,000-calorie diet vs. 22 teaspoons of sugar currently consumed on average).
- Cholesterol: Dietary cholesterol is no longer on the list of nutrients to watch (previous recommendation was to limit cholesterol from foods to 300 milligrams a day), but saturated fat is still a nutrient to limit.
- Meat: Lean meats are recommended as part of a healthy eating pattern; however, meat consumption and cardiovascular risks are called out in one of the chapters.
- Caffeine and alcohol: Both appear to be safe in limited amounts.
- Healthy diet: Many recommendations stay the same, including more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and a variety of protein foods (including lean meat, eggs and seafood), and less salt (less than 2,300mg vs. 3,400mg consumed on average), saturated fats and trans fats. All forms of foods—including fresh, canned, dried, and frozen—can be included in healthy eating patterns.
- New dietary patterns: Healthy eating patterns were expanded to include Mediterranean and Vegetarian dietary patterns.
- Gradual changes: Instead of specific nutrients to eliminate or include, the Guidelines focus on “shifts” to emphasize the need to make healthy substitutions rather than increasing intake overall.
- MyPlate: MyPlate, a healthy eating tool, remains highly visual but has a new slogan (“My Wins”) and updated website.
- Collective action: The Guidelines call for “collective action across all segments of society,” including partnerships with food producers, suppliers and retailers, and policies that promote healthy eating and physical activity patterns.
- No Breakfast Reference: The 2010 Dietary Guidelines recognized research supporting breakfast as important in a healthy eating pattern, but this is not referenced in the current guidelines. While the new guidelines focus on patterns (versus nutrients in previous guidelines), there’s actually very little emphasis on meal timing or eating occasions.