by Cassandra Johnson
Every five years, the government releases a new version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is a policy document that provides advice for what the US population 2 years and older should be eating for health. A panel of experts outlines the recommendations based on research findings and medical knowledge. Their recommendations focus on healthy eating.
But, expert advice on what to eat changes. The first Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released in 1980 and focused on eating a variety of foods, maintaining an ideal weight, avoiding too much fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, eating foods with adequate starch and fiber, and avoiding too much sugar and too much sodium. Over the years, the focus on fat has shifted from low fat to eating more of certain types of fats, such as unsaturated fats in olive and other vegetable oils, nuts, and seafood.
In the current version, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recommendations emphasize balance, or eating more nutritious foods and fewer foods with more solid fat, added sugar, and sodium. For instance, the current advice is to eat more fruits and vegetables (especially dark green vegetables like broccoli and collard greens!), seafood and plant proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. They also suggest minimizing sources of empty calories such as fast foods, snack foods, sweets and sweetened beverages. Current and previous versions of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans are available online.
Now, a proposed new version is about to be released, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The new guidelines are available for public review and comment through early May. Early reports say that the new guidelines emphasize a diet that is: “rich in vegetables, fruit, whole grains, seafood, legumes, and nuts; moderate in low- and non-fat dairy products and alcohol (among adults); lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and beverages and refined grains.” Also, the guidance mentions that it is not necessary to cut out food groups, but that it is better to combine foods in a variety of flexible ways to have a healthy diet. This advice is familiar and consistent with much of the advice in the current version.
But, there are some surprises in the proposed new dietary guidelines. The upcoming version discusses sustainability and the importance of considering the environmental impact of what we eat. Another notable addition is the recommendation that caffeine for adults is okay within reason. This means that we can enjoy our drinking coffee and tea and feel even better about it. Perhaps the biggest change is that there is less concern about cholesterol in the upcoming recommendations than previous versions. This is good news for many people who enjoy having eggs for breakfast or using whole eggs in recipes.
What do you need to know? The latest nutritional advice reflects what we know about nutrition and health. Some of it will be similar to the familiar advice, more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, seafood and plant proteins. But, other advice may seem unexpected, such as relaxed guidelines about caffeine and cholesterol. If you are interested in learning more about healthy eating, we have educational opportunities in Harnett, Lee and in Wake County. You can reach us by phone or email. We would love to hear from you! For more information about the soon-to-be released guidelines, please visit the main page: Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015.