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NEWS: New USDA Nutrition Guidelines

Kale Chips

Thai Collard Wrap
Kale is the current nutrient-dense darling, but collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, Swiss chard and watercress have the same top score on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI). Top: kale chips (here’s the recipe). Bottom: Use collard greens instead of other sandwich wraps. Here’s how. Photo courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

  Every five years the USDA reviews and releases its recommended nutrition guidelines, which change over time as science generates more information. Here is the full report.

None of it will be news to anyone. Here’s what you should eat:

More fruits and vegetables; grains, especially whole grains; low-fat or fat-free dairy products; seafood, lean poultry and meats; beans, eggs, and unsalted nuts. Limit solid fats, cholesterol and trans fats; consume less than 10% of calories from saturated fats. Limit salt (sodium) and added sugars. And exercise regularly.

Here’s the summary of the guidelines:

THE GUIDELINES

1. Follow a healthy eating pattern across your lifespan. All food and beverage choices matter. Choose a healthy eating pattern at an appropriate calorie level to help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight, support nutrient adequacy, and reduce the risk of chronic disease. (Editor’s Note: It’s never too late to start.)

2. Focus on variety, nutrient density, and amount. To meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient-dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts. (Editor’s Note: Nutrient dense foods are those that provide the most nutrients for the fewest calories. Here’s a guide to the most nutrient-dense foods in every category.)

3. Limit calories from added sugars and saturated fats, and reduce sodium intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats and sodium (salt). Cut back on foods and beverages higher in these components to amounts that fit within healthy eating patterns.

4. Shift to healthier food and beverage choices. Choose nutrient-dense foods and beverages across and within all food groups in place of less healthy choices. Consider cultural and personal preferences to make these shifts easier to accomplish and maintain.

 
5. Support healthy eating patterns for all. Everyone has a role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings nationwide, from home to school to work to communities.

 

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Dietary Guidelines’ Key Recommendations for healthy eating patterns should be applied in their entirety, given the interconnected relationship that each dietary component can have with others.

1. Consume a healthy eating pattern that accounts for all foods and beverages within an appropriate calorie level.

A healthy eating pattern includes:

  • A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups—dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starches.
  • 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, peas, lentils), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
  • Oils.
  •  

    Baked Salmon With Quinoa
    Fish is the most nutrient-dense protein, with wild salmon at the top of the list. Second- best is chicken breast. Shown here is baked salmon atop a bed of quinoa; photo courtesy Nestlé.

     
    2. A healthy eating pattern limits saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. The following components are of particular public health concern in the United States, and the specified limits can help individuals achieve healthy eating patterns within calorie limits.

  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars.
  • Consume less than 10% of calories per day from saturated fats.
  • Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
  • If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation—up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men—and only by adults of legal drinking age.
  •  
    PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

    In tandem with the recommendations above, to help promote health and reduce the risk of chronic disease, Americans of all ages—children, adolescents, adults, and older adults—should meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Americans should aim to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. The relationship between diet and physical activity contributes to calorie balance and managing body weight.

    Editor’s Note: You knew all of this; now you just have to make small adjustments to get closer to the ideal. Good luck to us all.

      




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