During the first week of January 2016, Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack released updated nutritional guidelines for Americans, reflecting the latest science-based recommendations on diet.
What should consumers know? The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion has provided a helpful list of the top ten things to know about the new 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- A lifetime of healthy eating helps to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.
- Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of disease. The Dietary Guidelines recommendations can help you make informed choices about eating for you and your family.
- The path to improving health through nutrition is to follow a healthy eating pattern that’s right for you. Eating patterns are the combination of foods and drinks you eat over time. A healthy eating pattern is adaptable to a person’s taste preferences, traditions, culture and budget.
- A healthy eating pattern includes:
o A variety of vegetables: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables
o Fruits, especially whole fruit
o Grains, at least half of which are whole grain
o Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
o A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), soy products, and nuts and seeds
o 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.
- Healthy eating patterns limit added sugars. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars. See ChooseMyPlate.gov to find more information about added sugars, which are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those consumed as part of milk and fruits.
- Healthy eating patterns limit saturated and trans fats. Less than 10% of your daily calories should come from saturated fats. Foods that are high in saturated fat include butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil. Saturated fats should be replaced with unsaturated fats, such as canola or olive oil
- Healthy eating patterns limit sodium. Adults and children ages 14 years and older should limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg per day, and children younger than 14 years should consume even less. Check the Nutrition Facts label on food products to check for sodium, especially in processed foods like pizza, pasta dishes, sauces, and soups.
- Most Americans can benefit from making small shifts in their daily eating habits to improve their health over the long run. Small shifts in food choices—over the course of a week, a day, or even a meal—can make a difference in working toward a healthy eating pattern that works for you.
- Remember physical activity! Regular physical activity is one of the most important things individuals can do to improve their health. According to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and should perform muscle-strengthening exercises on two or more days each week.
- Everyone has a role–at home, schools, workplaces, communities, and food retail outlets–in encouraging easy, accessible, and affordable ways to support healthy choices.
Find the entire set of guidelines here: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines.
Source: Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (www.health.gov), adapted by IlluminAge AgeWise.