The U.S. Government has just released its 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. They are science-based recommendations that focus on disease prevention.
Unhealthy eating habits are linked with an increased risk for developing chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain forms of cancer. Healthy eating is one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce the onset of those disease.
The new Dietary Guidelines recommend eating more of some foods and nutrients and less of others over a lifetime.
Here is what we need to be eating more of:
• Vegetables, including dark greens, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables and others
• Fruits, especially whole fruits
• Grains, 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.)
Here’s what we need to limit:
• Consume less than 10 percent of your calories per day from added sugars
• Consume less than 10 percent of your calories per day from saturated fats
• Consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium
• Consume as little dietary cholesterol as possible
• 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.
The following are some practical ideas and tips to get you started toward a healthier eating pattern:
• Water is best. Replace sugary beverages such as soda, lemonade, sweet tea and fruit punch with water to reduce added sugar intake.
• Avoid processed foods which usually have too much Sodium. Choose natural, fresh foods will help to meet the sodium intake guideline.
• Educate yourself about the sodium content of foods by looking at the Nutrition Facts Panel on the label. You’ll quickly learn that items like canned soup, frozen convenience meals, sauces and processed meats contain excessive amounts. Staying below 2,300 mg. per day is impossible if you rely heavily on these high-sodium items.
• Limit how often you consume high-sodium fast foods and restaurant meals. You can control the sodium content of food when you prepare meals at home. Try salt free seasonings.
• To reduce your intake of saturated fats (generally solid at room temperature), limit your intake of butter, whole milk, meats that are not labeled as lean, and tropical oils such as coconut and palm oil.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines also reminds adults to include at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week and to perform muscle strengthening exercises at least twice a week.