Last week, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released updated nutritional guidelines that encourage Americans to adopt a series of science-based recommendations to improve how they eat to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases.
The "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans" provide science-based recommendations on food and nutrition so people can make decisions that may help keep their weight under control and prevent chronic conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, Burwell said in a government release.
The government offers new dietary guidelines every five years reflecting the latest advancements in scientific understanding about healthy eating. Some of the recommendations in this year's guidelines include:
- Americans should eat less added sugar. Added sugar should not make up more than 10 percent of a person's calories for the day.
- Americans should keep saturated fats to less than 10 percent of calories per day.
- Cholesterol limitations have been removed. Previously, the government had advised people to limit their daily cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams, but the new guidelines remove a limit and instead advises people to "eat as little dietary cholesterol as possible."
- Salt intake level has been revised for all Americans who are 14 years of age and older. Previously, the government recommended that seniors, African Americans and people with chronic conditions limit their salt intake to 1,500 milligrams per day while other Americans could have 2,300 milligrams. The guidelines now say 2,300 milligrams is OK for everyone.
- Coffee is OK in moderation. The guidelines say that up to five cups of coffee per day can be beneficial for people, possibly reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
The specific recommendations fit into five overarching guidelines:
- Follow a healthy eating pattern across the lifespan. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks that a person eats over time
- Focus on variety, nutrient-dense foods, and amount
- Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake
- Shift to healthier food and beverage choices
- Support healthy eating patterns for all
The guidelines suggest Americans should consume:
- A variety of vegetables, including dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
- Fruits, especially whole fruits
- Grains, at least half of which are whole grains
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
- Oils, including those from plants: canola, corn, olive, peanut, safflower, soybean, and sunflower. Oils also are naturally present in nuts, seeds, seafood, olives, and avocados
The recommendations in the "2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines" were informed by the recommendations of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which was composed of researchers in the fields of nutrition, health and medicine, and by consideration of public and federal agency comments.
The USDA has released updates for consumers on ChooseMyPlate.gov, and new resources will soon be available on Health.gov from HHS that will help health professionals support their clients and patients in making healthy choices.